Because BW's deadlines were early for Christmas, we missed noting the biggest single day of last year in last week's 8 Days Last Year column.
In terms of size, scale and impact upon the world, the 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami tops our chart for the biggest days of 2004. The rare megathrust earthquake, where one tectonic plate slips beneath another, occurred at 5:58 p.m. MST on Christmas Day. This earthquake was the largest in 40 years and scientist say it may have shifted the island of Sumatra up to 36 meters from its previous geographic coordinates. Some islands may have moved by 20 meters or may no longer even exist, having been submerged beneath the ocean. A tsunami formed which radiated out from the epicenter of the quake and impacted countries as far as 3,000 miles away, farther than the distance between New York and Los Angeles.
In the days that followed, casualty estimates kept increasing. As of press time, an estimated 156,000 people may have perished in the cataclysm. To prevent further deaths from disease, the world has pledged millions in aid and has rushed food, water and equipment to the affected nations. Millions remain homeless and thousands are still missing. This may be one of the biggest eight days of our lives.