More than 12,600 people were killed and millions more displaced in eight countries by a wall of water unleashed by the biggest earthquake for 40 years, which began 25 miles under the seabed off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and measured 8.9 on the Richter scale.
Travelling at speeds of up to 300mph, the waves engulfed packed coastal resorts in Thailand, swamped fishing villages along the Indian coast, and smashed coastal resorts in Sri Lanka. Snorkellers were dragged across coral, sunbathers were swept off their beaches, divers trapped in caves, fishermen swept out to sea, and homes, hotels and cars across the Indian Ocean were swept away in a tide of debris-strewn water.
With thousands missing and communications destroyed in parts of Indonesia, governments warned that the death toll was certain to rise.
Tremors from the quake, the fifth largest in 100 years, were measured in Britain and people were killed as far away as Kenya and Somalia, 2,800 miles away, where at least nine people drowned.