Part 1 - Tsunami and Sri Lanka
The tsunami caused by a sudden earthquake in the sea near the Isles of Nicobar on 26th December, 2004 did not cease even until it reached the far off island of Sri Lanka, thousands of kilometres away from the quake's epicentre. Being the second in the list of most severely affected countries, the small island with no prior experiences of such sudden disasters had its worst-ever tragedy. Therefore the loss was huge -- more than two thirds of the country's coastal areas were mercilessly washed away to the sea.
Part 2 - Tsunami and Matara
As for the city of Matara, the tsunami has not shown any difference. The waves caused serious damage to the city -- especially because many of the city's important buildings are situated near the shore. Although the number of deaths reported from the district is something more than a thousand, it is said that there are many lost people yet to be found.
Three leading schools in Matara, namely St Servatious' College, St Mary's Convent and Mahamaya Balika Vidyalaya, are severely damaged but reconstruction work has begun and the schools will be conducted as usual in the near future. Many deaths were reported from the Matara market wherein a large number of people had gathered by then. A person who had been in the market at the time of the incident said:
“The first wave wetted my trousers. I and many others who were in the market began running. We had no clear idea of what was happening. We just ran as others did. An agitated bus driver recklessly reversed his bus to escape, crushing the woman who ran with me to the ground. The wires of the high-tension line fell on running people....It was horrible!“
Among other places damaged are the Kachcheri and the High Court. Hundreds of homes have become flat to the ground. However, the sources say that the damage caused by the tsunami has become a minimum due to the fact that it was a public holiday - a poya day. Had the incident occurred a week later, the school vacations would have ended by then and several thousands of innocent school children would have washed away by the monstrous waves. Also the beach road is several times busier on non-holidays.
Part 3 - Tsunami and Rahula College
The Rahula College was not directly damaged by the tsunami. However it lost some valuable lives (as described in The Lives We Lost). Nevertheless Rahula College played an important role in providing accommodation for the tsunami victims. Probably it's the first refugee camp to be set up in the district, as its doors were open for the homeless people even from 9.30 a.m. on that day. About 2500 people were accommodated in the school premises. The principal, the staff, the Old Boys and its students actively participated in treating the people well. It would be unfair not to mention the sacrifices of teachers by providing food for the doctors who led a medical campaign inside the college. It was one of the few permanent medical camps held in Matara districts. Officers from Red Cross Association were present.
On 23rd of January, soon after the tsunami victims left the school premises, the teachers, parents and students led a giant campaign in order to clean the school. They did their task so well to ensure that no harmful germs, etc. would no more be there in the school. This is the first time that Rahula College had to face such a situation. The hard work of the school principal, the staff and all those who supported so to make everything a success is really praiseworthy.