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National Science Foundation
Map of India.

The tsunami hit India’s east coast about two-and-a-half hours after the massive earthquake occurred. More than 10,000 people died in the state of Tamil Nadu, and along the southwest coast.

Photo of Harry Yeh.

Harry Yeh, Oregon State University

Credit: Oregon State University

Harry Yeh, a professor of ocean engineering from Oregon State University, led a team to the Indian east coast. His team included sediment expert Curt Peterson from Portland State University, seismologist R.K. Chadha from India’s National Geophysical Research Institute, oceanographers G. Latha and G. Raghuraman from India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology and social engineer Toshitaka Katada from Japan’s Gunma University.

The team measured the wave’s height at various places along the coast, taking the highest measurement—about 17 feet—at Nagapattinum, where an estimated 6,000 people died.


Photo of wave scoured a hole.

In Kalapakkom, a 10-foot wave scoured a hole almost 5 feet deep and broke the sewer pipe near this house.

Credit: Harry Yeh, Oregon State University

Photo of Indian fishing town.

Even 1,000 miles away from the earthquake, the tsunami force was capable of running large ships aground in Port of Nagappattinam, an Indian fishing town. Some 6,000 residents were killed.

Credit: Harry Yeh, Oregon State University

A Special Report After the Tsunami