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by Cheryl Henney

My friends husband died in the 2004 Tsunami. They lived in Mauritius. How far is that from where the Tsunami hit? It could've been San Luis. Were there any deaths? If so, how far away did the deaths occur?

Jeff's response:

Hello Cheryl,
I'm very sorry to hear about your friends loss. The earthquake that caused this tsunami has gone down in history as one of the world's deadliest. I was shocked at the power as well as the speed with which the tsunami moved across the ocean claiming life after life. It was truly awful.

Mauritius was located approximately 4,800 kilometres (2980 miles) from the epicentre. It took less than 8 hours 30 minutes for the first of these waves to arrive along the northern and eastern shores of Mauritius.

Eyewitnesses report that the first wave hit between 12:15 to 12:30pm on the 26th December 2004. Approximately fifteen minutes elapsed between each successive wave crest and these lasted until 3:30pm when the waves ended. From what I understand, each wave crest was as high as the one to follow up until about 3:00pm.

As I’ve written elsewhere, a tide gauge in Port Louis Harbor measured wave heights up to 1.8 metres but thankfully it was low tide at the time. If it was high tide, then it's highly likely that sea water would have flooded many parts of Port Louis and other low-lying coastal regions of Mauritius.

There was no reported loss of life in Mauritius directly due to the tsunami but there was one fatality recorded on the far southern tip of Madagascar.

However, along the East African coastline, the tsunami impact hit hardest along a 650 kilometre (404 miles) stretch of Somali coastline (specifically between Garacad and Xaafuun) where sadly, up to 300 people perished.

Interestingly, the Somali coastline is about the same distance as Mauritius was from the earthquakes epicentre but more wave energy was focused towards Somalia due to the fact that Somalia was in the main westward tsunami propagation direction.

Please let me know if you need further information.



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