Relief effort after Boxing Day tsunami

On this day––two days after Indian Ocean littoral countries were devastated by a tsunami generated by a severe earthquake off Sumatra, Indonesia, on 26 December 2004––the first two RAAF C-130H transports from No 36 Squadron touched down at Medan to begin flying relief into Aceh Province. The initial focus of the Australian effort was the disaster-affected town of Banda Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra. Crews of aircraft flying over the region, especially up the west coast of the island, were dismayed by the total absence of any visible life. RAAF participation in the relief effort, called Operation Sumatra Assist, ranged from medical staff and aeromedical evacuation teams to air traffic controllers (needed to help manage the increased flow of aircraft into the region), engineers, logistics personnel, as well as a variety of transport aircraft (C-130s, Boeing 707) and air terminal staff.

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