Tsunami Fact Sheet

Note: The following appeal is now closed.  You can support our ongoing work by donating to the Canadian Red Cross


The 9.0 earthquake off the western coast of northern Sumatra on December 26, 2004, triggered massive waves or ‘tsunamis’, inundating coastal areas in countries around the Indian Ocean rim. Sri Lanka, the Indonesian province of Aceh, four states of southern India, the Maldives, Myanmar, and coastal areas of Thailand, Malaysia were the most severely affected.

Latest human toll: The earthquake and tidal waves left more than 250,000 people dead, 1.6 million displaced, and millions without livelihoods in Asia and east Africa.

Contributions by the Canadian Red Cross

The emergency period of assistance for tsunami-affected countries is expected to last until June 2005. However, the Canadian Red Cross is already supporting long-term recovery and rehabilitation programs in the region, which will continue for up to ten years. Dozens of Canadian Red Cross relief workers have also been sent to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives to work in the areas of health, nursing, disaster management, and logistics.  

In addition, the Canadian Red Cross has contributed to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is coordinating Red Cross operations throughout the tsunami-affected countries. Since the beginning of the operation, over 800,000 people affected by the tsunami have received some form of assistance by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Approximately $132-million dollars donated by Canadians for tsunami relief will be eligible for matching by the Government of Canada. The first installment of $51.4-million from the matching fund program has been received from CIDA and is being used to cover expenses spent by the Canadian Red Cross immediately after the tsunami hit for emergency relief operations. The remaining funds from the matching program will be used to support long term recovery and rehabilitation programming over the next 10 years.

Within less than three months, the Canadian Red Cross has sent more than one million kilograms of urgently needed relief items to tsunami-affected regions.


The Canadian Red Cross has sent 618,060 kilograms of aid, which in part includes:

  • 60,000 infant care kits
  • 29,448 thermal blankets and 13,400 bedsheets
  • 107,920 water containers and buckets with lids
  • 23,640 plastic tarps for shelters and 6,000 tents
  • 12,700 rolls of 25 metre rope
  • 800 medical treatment kits

An assessment of needs in Indonesia to work with other members of the International Red Cross Movement in Banda Aceh led to plans in the following areas:

  • Reconstruction and re-equipping 10 schools and 10 health centres;
  • Enhancing disaster preparedness and mitigation measures for vulnerable communities;
  • Establishing mobile health clinics in remote areas;
  • Supporting people in rebuilding their livelihoods; and
  • Training and capacity building for the Indonesian Red Cross Society.


Sri Lanka

The Canadian Red Cross has sent 268,830 kilograms of aid, which includes:

  • 50,000 hygiene kits for a family of six
  • 37,440 water containers
  • 17,713 kitchen sets
  • 40,000 rolls of 25 metre rope
  • 770,000 water purification sachets, able to treat over 15-million litres of water

The Canadian Red Cross plans to rebuild or repair six hospitals that were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami in the districts of Kalutara, Galle, Kilinochchi, and Jaffna. The Canadian Red Cross is training community health workers in psycho-social assistance to provide support to traumatized survivors.

The Canadian Red Cross delegation that arrived in Sri Lanka in February is conducting assessments and designing programs in the following areas: 

  • Establishing nation wide Red Cross Health Centres staffed with a health promoter and volunteers to serve vulnerable communities;
  • Relief distribution with a focus on hygiene kits to people who remain displaced;
  • Enhancing disaster preparedness and mitigation measures;
  • Supporting people to rebuild their livelihoods;
  • Reconstruction and re-equipping a number of health centres; and
  • Capacity building of the Sri Lanka Red Cross.



The Canadian Red Cross has been supporting 45 nursery schools and one vocational centre in the southern state of Tamil Nadu for the last three years. The program consists of providing nutritional supplements to the children of the schools and centre in order to increase their daily protein requirements. 

Thirteen of these nurseries were in the tsunami-affected areas, so our tsunami recovery and rehabilitation efforts are revolving around the nursery school children and their families.


The Canadian Red Cross has sent 4,980 kilograms of aid, which in part includes:

  • 50,000 water purification sachets
  • 5,040 thermal blankets
  • 600 flashlights and 1,392 batteries

We have an agreement with the Government of the Maldives to support clean-up and waste management operations with the Australian Red Cross to clear waste left behind by the tsunamis in 70 of the country’s islands, repair and rebuild community infrastructure, as well as develop a wind power pilot project to provide electricity to 600 homes on Dhuvaafaru Island.


The Canadian Red Cross has sent 68,430 kilograms of aid, which includes:

  • 32,432 water containers
  • 7,440 thermal blankets
  • 4,700 plastic tarps for shelters
  • 2 Landcruisers
  • One diesel generator


The Emergency Operations Support Centre (EOSC)

The Canadian Red Cross provides CIDA with a rapid global response and assessment capacity. This response unit deployed over 67,000 kilograms of essential relief supplies to Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in less than 48 hours after the Asian tsunamis.

In the days and weeks that followed, CIDA received ongoing reports from Red Cross personnel working in affected areas, to support CIDA in assessing how Canada could best support the relief and recovery efforts.