December 26th, 2004 began just like any other day for the villagers of Kota Kuala Muda - a small town by the banks of the Muda River that's named after an old fort. It was set to be another peaceful day, but it turned out to be the deadliest, most tragic day for this quiet fishing village.

Tragedy Struck

A powerful earthquake of 8.9 magnitude had taken place off the west coast of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean, triggering a Tsunami that would eventually lead to a devastating impact on Kota Kuala Muda. The first wave hit the shores of Kota Kuala Muda at 1.15 pm. It was about 2.5 metres high. Just moments ago, attendees at a local gathering saw a strange sight of the sea water receding almost 1 kilometer away. Curious and shocked, some of them left to get a closer look. They saw, on the horizon, the formation of a thick, white line. They did not know how deadly it would be until they heard the roars of the powerful approaching waves.

The force of a tsunami is often underestimated as a single wave. It is not. Tsunamis consist of multiple waves known as a ‘wave train.’ Thirty minutes later, the second wave hit. This time, it grew to 8 meters in height.

The Aftermath

The deadly tsunami eventually caused 11 deaths in the state of Kedah. It also destroyed 113 houses and caused damages to 398 houses. Families from 477 houses were left with no choice but to evacuate their homes. Unfortunately for the locals, Kota Kuala Muda had experienced the worst of the tsunami’s brunt with 10 villages destroyed.

Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial kedah
Attractions at Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial in Kedah, Malaysia
kota kuala muda beach
Kota Kuala Muda is a small sleepy town in Kedah.

Attractions at Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial in Kedah, Malaysia

Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial

Managed by the Sungai Petani Municipal Council, the Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial was built to remember the lives of those who perished in this tragic event. There is a Tsunami monument erected within the memorial park which is a striking sight. Standing 6-meter tall, this monument is made up of 26 brightly coloured fishing boats, stacked one on top of the other. These are the very boats that were damaged during the tragedy. The number 26 is also very significant as it is the date of the tragedy, which occured on 26 December 2004.

The memorial site is formed by a cluster of barren houses that were destroyed by the tsunami. The cracked, broken structures are a testimony of the devastating impact. One cannot help but wonder what it must have felt like to witness the powerful waves blast through the concrete walls, leaving only ruins behind.

Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial kedah
Tugu Peringatan Tsunami Kuala Kedah - the impressive Tsunami monument at the memorial park.
Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial Site
Attractions at Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial, Kedah
Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial Site
Destroyed houses at Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial, Kedah
Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial, Kedah
Damaged structures still preserved at Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial, Kedah
Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial, Kedah
What to see at Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial, Kedah
top attractions in kedah
There is no ticket required and admission to the Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Memorial is free!

Kota Kuala Muda Tsunami Gallery

The Tsunami Gallery located next door provides information and history of the tsunami as well as a list of other countries that were impacted by this tragedy. Please note that certain photographs displayed here might be too graphic for some as they contain images of corpses. Statistically, the earthquake was the third largest on record. The tsunami took close to 230,000 lives in over 14 countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. Till this very day, it still remains as one of the deadliest natural disasters in the world.

The fishing village of Kota Kuala Muda is now better prepared should there be another tsunami. A tsunami alert system has since been installed in both the sea and the coast that would give residents plenty of time for evacuation.

Visitors would certainly be left with a sense of sadness after learning about all that has taken place here. One can only imagine the pain and loss felt by the families and friends of those whose lives were lost. Today, the brightly coloured boats at the monument which is a stark contrast to the solemn surrounding serves as a reminder to all of us that hope can always be found - even in the darkest of places.

peristiwa tsunami di kota kuala muda
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. – Desmond Tutu.

Contact Information

Address: Kampung Kepala Jalan, 08500 Kota Kuala Muda, Kedah Darul Aman
Ticket price: Free entry
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 6.00pm daily

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