Telwatta, Sri Lanka: memorials to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami

It was a holiday for all of us, so my father and I went to the beach to swim. Some people played games on the beach. Then suddenly we saw something strange happen in the sea. My father and I stopped swimming. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

The water in the sea was running back nearly a kilometre. Hundreds of silvery fish wriggled and flopped helplessly in the wet, empty sand.

Fishermen ran towards the sea. They gathered up the struggling fish. All at once a giant wall of water had risen from where the sea meets the sky and was running down towards the beach where the people stood watching.

My father and I ran fast towards land. Unfortunately my father was caught by the merciless sea wave and he is gone forever. I am fortunate enough to survive – with that bitter experience and great loss, we are determined to face the future.

Shiban Niranthara Baranasuriya – 13 years.

A small private museum in Talwatta, on the road from Ahungulla to Galle, displays photographs and stories of the devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. A train travelling from Colombo was surrounded by water from the first, smaller wave. Many people joined the train’s passengers and took refuge, only to be washed away by the force of the second. Over 1,200 people lost their lives on the train alone.

A bas relief memorial to that disaster (a detail of which is included in this post) stands on the beach a short way south of the photo museum.

Tsunami photo museum 1 Tsunami memorial - detail

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