The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami that occurred on 26 December, is recognized the world over as one of the deadliest natural disasters recorded in the history of mankind.
With a magnitude (energy release) of Mw 9.1 to 9.3 on the maximum 9.9 Richter Scale, it is the third largest earthquake ever recorded on the seismograph. The earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, that is between 8.3 to 10 minutes. Scientists say that it caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimeter. The tsunami that followed the earthquake, burst and ravaged through cities of multiple countries.
While in Banda Aceh, capital of the Aceh Province, the force of the tsunami was such that a huge Floating Diesel Power Station Ship named PLTD Apung I was lifted like a toy and swept up by the huge waves to be thrown and to run aground some 2 kilometers inland.
Today, the ship can be seen at Punge Blang Cut Village, in the city of Banda Aceh. Most of the houses and buildings near where the ship landed were destroyed by the disaster but have now been replaced by new buildings. But the ship still stands incongruously in the midst of a housing estate.
The floating Diesel Power Station that weighs 2,600 tons, is 19 meters long, and 9 meters wide had beenbuffeted over the mainland to about 2km from the Ulelheue Port, where it was originally stationed. The floating power station belonged to the National Electrical Power Company (PLN) that was sent to Aceh in 2003 to meet the need for electricity in the area. Prior to being moored in Aceh, the ship that had a 10 megawatt power capacity, had been placed in a number of areas in several parts of the Indonesianarchipelago.
Just looking at the sheer size of the ship and its enormous weight one can well imagine the huge strength of the tsunami. On top of that imagine how great must have been the panic and shock that people experiencedwatching this enormous ship being carried and swept on by the tsunami, destroying everything in its path.
The floating power station was stationed about 3 Km from the Ulelheue Port when the tsunami struck. There were 11 crew members on board at the time, of whom only one came out alive. When the first powerfulwave carried the ship on land, all 11 men were still aboard ship. When the water subsided, 10 men stepped down from the ship leaving only one on board. By then, the second huge wave of the tsunami struck and the 10 crew members were swept away, leaving the fortunate survivor who was left on board ship.
At the site, you are not only able to observe the ship from the outside but you can also step on board and explore all of its 3 levels. To climb up the ship, take the steel stairs near the hull.
Not too far from the on-land wreck, you can also visit the Tsunami Education Park. Featuring pictures from the tsunami disaster, the park is also planted with neatly arranged sheltering trees standing by a winding footpath.
To reach the site of PLTD Apung I you will need to go by a village road and follow this for about 300 meters. The road is quite narrow, but is properly asphalted. The site is situated at Punge Blang Cut Village, which is only about 1 Km away from the heart of Banda Aceh.