The Faces of Those Affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

the three-dimensional terrain of Google Earth, and the testimony of the victim who survived the tsunami disaster, a photo that is collected from immediately after the disaster.

Screenshot of Project Aceh Tsunami Archive. The project page allows users to view the three-dimensional terrain of Google Earth overlayed with stories of people who survived the tsunami disaster as well as photos collected from immediately after the disaster.

[All links lead to Japanese-language webpages unless otherwise noted.]

A group of researchers in Japan in cooperation with the Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center of Syiah Kuala University in Indonesia have used Google Maps to publish an extensive digital archive of stories and images of people in the Indonesian province of Aceh, one of the areas hardest hit by the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami [en].

Project Aceh Tsunami Archive was developed by three professors, Hidenori Watanave, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, and Yoshimi Nishi, and their students to digitally archive the stories of Aceh's damage and recovery toward a brighter future.

Hiroyuki Yamamoto shared his hope that there is something everyone can learn from the disaster recovery process:


The process of recovery from the disaster has universal interest. It serves as a reference which will be very helpful for other affected areas, as well as helpful in disaster prevention education outside the affected area. In this regard, we believe that the changes in the region towards recovery should be recorded. Even though there is a movement to preserve damage as a monument, some areas undergo such drastic changes during reconstruction that no damage from the disaster can be traced. I have been researching the regions on a regular basis along with the data sets from Aceh Tsunami Mobile Museum. I hope that our usefully designed interface for the Aceh Tsunami Archive will help connect the people inside and outside of the affected region, and that the experience of Aceh will be shared as common property of mankind. 

Users have the option to select what information appears on the map, such as stories, photos, and aiding countries. By clicking the round photos of people, users can read the story of disaster victims in both Indonesian and Japanese. These stories of survivors were originally compiled and published by Badan Arsip Provinsi Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, the library branch of the National Archives of Indonesia in Aceh, and will be updated more in the near future as more of the text is translated into Japanese.

Screenshot of Aceh Tsunami Archive

Screenshot of the Aceh Tsunami Archive showcasing the story of Intan Mayasari, survivor of the disaster who quickly ran out of the house after the earthquake. 

Project Aceh Tsunami Archive is a counterpart to the already published East Japan Earthquake Archive [ja], so both sets of information can be viewed on a single globe integrated in Google map.

Hidenori Watanave, who has worked on a series of digital archive projects including the aforementioned archives as well as the Tuvalu Visualization Project [en], Nagasaki [atomic bomb] Archive, Hiroshima Archive, and Peace Learning Archive in Okinawawrote:


The students in Aceh unanimously said that the memories of the tsunami are fading away. That's something different from Japanese counterpart victims, which may reflect the different characteristic of each nationality. Yet these students are working hard so that their experience will be preserved for the future. We have also seen children playing around the powership and the stranded ship, which are remnants of the tsunami. These scenes are example of memories of the tsunami staying in everyday life, and knowing the condition of the effects and aftermath of the disaster may give clues to how we think about the future of Japan.

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