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PHOTO ESSAY: After the tsunami

Sri Lanka
Tsunami survivor Kajendhri

© Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

26 December 2014 marks 10 years since the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 250,000 people in a matter of hours, and left hundreds of thousands homeless. It was a disaster unlike any other and the world responded with unprecedented generosity – in Britain, almost £400 million ($630 million) was donated to the British charities that make up the Disaster Emergencies Committee (DEC). Eight months after the disaster, photographer Tim Hetherington travelled to India and Sri Lanka with Christian Aid to produce a series of images for their one-year anniversary exhibition Every time I see the sea. Tragically, Tim died while working in Libya in 2011, but his work is now part of ,Tsunami: 10 years after the wave, a multimedia production by Christian Aid.

[Photo, top] Kajendhri, 28, stands in front of her partly destroyed home in Palhayar, India. ‘I thought I was going to die, but I wanted to get away so I could see my children again. When I woke up I was almost naked. I could see water everywhere and there was a grand silence.’

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Nearly 2,000 people died when this train became trapped in the waves near Peraliya, Sri Lanka. The crumpled carriages later became a shrine to grieving relatives.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Thousands of lives were saved by this half-built flyover near Nagipattinam, southern India. ‘I ran to the flyover and climbed the scaffolding. Hundreds of people were trying to climb up. Women could not climb in their saris, and they kept falling,’ said 34-year-old Selvamai.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Almost 35,000 fisherfolk were killed and tens of thousands of fishing vessels destroyed. It took months for the fishers to return to sea. Organizations like Christian Aid provided fishing boats and equipment to help them get back to work.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

Over a million people lost their homes, possessions and vital documents. NGOs built thousands of new houses but land disputes and government restrictions meant that some people had to live in makeshift camps for months, or even years.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

In Sri Lanka almost 4,500 children lost one or both of their parents to the tsunami. Tim photographed some of them as part of an art and drama workshop, which aimed to help children come to term with their loss.

Christian Aid/Tim A. Hetherington

In the weeks after the tsunami even those not directly affected by the waves were afraid to go down to the beach. A year later people had started to overcome their fear. Here, Muslim schoolgirls play on the seashore in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

In memory of Tim Hetherington and those killed by the tsunami.
All photos copyright Christian Aid/Tim A Hetherington.
Films of Tim's tsunami work: Tsunami portraits; After the Tsunami
Tsunami: 10 years after the wave


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