JAKARTA, Indonesia — After the waters receded in Aceh on that fateful December day, the gargantuan task that lay ahead slowly became clear: Tens of thousands were missing and feared dead. Hundreds of thousands were homeless and in need of food and medical attention. And there was practically no infrastructure to speak of.
The December 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami – one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history – spawned one of the largest humanitarian responses the world has seen.
But first, the world had to figure out how to get there. With ports, roads, and airports completely destroyed, a relatively new Cessna Caravan owned by a fisheries businesswoman – now Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti – became the first to land in the devastated towns of Simeleu and Meulaboh.
Eventually, help came. In fact, help poured in. About $14 billion was raised internationally – an unprecedented amound – for the worst-affected countries. In the months and years that followed, many would analyze the relief effort and criticize the failures. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the world came to Aceh’s aid.
Photos below are from AFP and EPA