The Great Sumatra earthquake and tsunami of December 26, 2004 caused majordevastations on Indian coasts. In the process, it underlined many importantlessons for chalking out risk reduction programme. Important experience wasgained by the country in handling a major natural disaster affecting the largestever geographical region spread over several states. While the country was quitesensitized towards earthquakes, the tsunami took the public and the scientificcommunity by surprise. To the already incomplete agenda of seismic safetyprogrammes, was added the issue of tsunamis.
The scenario caused by the 2004 event must be seen in the context of the January 26,2001 Bhuj earthquake. Since 1950 Assam – Tibet earthquake (M~ 8.6), India had not had amajor earthquake of M>7.0 until 2001. The 1993 Latur earthquake (M 6.2) had caused 7,928deaths but had not created proportionate impact on the psyche of the public; it was viewed as arural earthquake since almost all deaths were caused by collapse of random rubble masonryhouses. After the 2001 earthquake (M 7.6; 13,805 deaths), people for the first time saw on theirtelevision screens modern reinforced concrete buildings fall like a pack of cards