Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

In memory of one of the most tragic natural disasters to hit Asia

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial © Adrian Cheah

The coastal fishing settlement of Kuala Muda was among the worst places to be hit in Malaysia when the dreadful and infamous tsunami disaster affected the Indian Ocean and its surroundings on December 26, 2004.

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

In memory of the scores of lives lost and the catastrophic suffering that befell the community here, a poignant and striking memorial has been built together with a gallery near the northern bank of the Sungai Muda where the river opens up to the ocean.

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

The site can be reached by road by crossing the river bridge at Permatang Bendahari in Seberang Perai and then by following the westward thoroughfare towards the sprawling and pristine Kuala Muda beach. 

The memorial is as inspiring as it is moving and imaginative. Standing as tall as the monstrous six-metre wave that shockingly hit the shores here in 2004, the monument is made of 26 actual boats that were damaged by the tsunami.

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

The gallery beside the memorial displays numerous photographs and news articles, together with charts and explanations on how the tsunami phenomenon occurred. The collection includes records of the disaster affecting other places like Sri Lanka, southern Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar islands, the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu in India and the Maldives.

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

Also in the exhibition are also several paintings and poems that express the awesome power of nature and the deep human calamity related to the incident.

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

The tsunami was caused by a colossal earthquake measuring 9.1 to 9.3 on the Richter scale on the seabed off the northern coast of Sumatra island in Indonesia, at 8.58am on 26 December 2004. It caused vibrations of such titanic proportions that the resulting gigantic waves swept over entire towns in northern Sumatra.

The waves also slammed onto the west coast of the Malay peninsula, including the coasts of Penang, Kedah and Perlis. The first wave crashed on the shores of Kuala Muda at about 1.15pm with a height exceeding 2.5 metres. The second wave at 1.45pm was 8 metres high and smashed through as far as 300 metres inland, damaging numerous houses, vehicles and other belongings.

At least ten villages were critically hit and more than 3,800 people lost their homes. Seventeen people lost their lives in Kuala Muda alone.

Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery and Memorial

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Written by Himanshu Bhatt
Photographs by Adrian Cheah

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