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National Science Foundation
ON THE SCENE: INDONESIA >> JOSE BORRERO
Map of Indonesia.

The Indonesian island of Sumatra, including Aceh province, is located right next to the ocean-bottom earthquake and squarely in the path of the tsunami. The tsunami hit Indonesia soonest and hardest, killing more than 173,000 people and wreaking destruction everywhere in its path.


Photo of Jose Borrero.

Jose Borrero, University of Southern California

Credit: © Jose C. Borrero, University of Southern California Tsunami Research Group

Jose Borrero landed in Sumatra on Jan. 3, 2005, and returned to the United States on Jan. 11.  An assistant research professor in the Tsunami Research Group at the University of Southern California, Borrero traveled with a National Geographic team that captured the horrific scenes on video for a TV program on disasters.

By Jan. 9, Borrero had completed a survey of the Banda Aceh area, photographing and referencing—using a global positioning system (GPS) —about 150 inundation-depth marks in the city. Many were over 15 feet deep. The tsunami reached almost two miles inland.

“It was so surreal,” he reported. “A beautiful sunny tropical day in Sumatra and we're walking through a place that used to be full of life, a complete city that was now nothing more than rubble. One house in 20 was still partially standing.”

Borrero also caught a ride on a U.S. Navy relief helicopter flight to photograph and take GPS readings on about 100 miles of the Sumatran coast.

Before leaving for home, he briefed A.S. Widodo, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, on his findings.

Read Borrero’s day-by-day account.

Photo of demolished this house in Kreung Raya.

The tsunami completely demolished this house in Kreung Raya and wedged oil drums into the roof.

Credit: © Jose C. Borrero, University of Southern California Tsunami Research Group

 
 
A Special Report After the Tsunami