Photo: Great Nicobar Island after tsunami

Stripped of foliage, trees on India's Great Nicobar Island stand in pools left by the 2004 tsunami. The countries worst-hit by the tsunami were Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

Photograph by Deshakalyan Chowdhury/AFP/Getty Images

Tsunamis can wreak havoc on coastal populations and landscapes. The December 26, 2004, tsunami in the Indian Ocean claimed some 150,000 lives and cleared the landscape on millions of acres of oceanfront terrain. Here are some measures you can take to avoid trouble if you're caught in a tsunami.

Safety Tips

  • When in coastal areas, stay alert for tsunami warnings.
  • Plan an evacuation route that leads to higher ground.
  • Know the warning signs of a tsunami: rapidly rising or falling coastal waters and rumblings of an offshore earthquake.
  • Never stay near shore to watch a tsunami come in.
  • A tsunami is a series of waves. Do not return to an affected coastal area until authorities say it is safe.

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