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The Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 shocked the world with death and destruction on a scale never before seen as 13 countries were hit by crushing earthquakes and tidal waves.

A 9.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, triggered the devastating tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people.

The Indian Ocean tsunami caused severe damage in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries.

It was one of the most deadliest natural disasters of all time and the deadliest of the 21st century so far.

When the first wave hit in Phuket in Thailand, an eight-year-old British girl was on holiday with her parents when she was saved thanks to the heroics of an elephant.

Amber Owen, from Milton Keynes, made friends with a four-year-old Ning Nong while on holiday and just happened to be by the elephant’s side at the time.

While on her daily ride with Ning Nong, the first water crashed as she hung onto the elephants shoulders.

The brave elephant saved the girl's life that day, Amber claims in an interview with The Mirror in 2016.

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She said: “Ning Nong knew what was going on. I don’t know what would have happened if I wasn’t on Ning Nong’s back.

“I was so scared. I could have just been swept away if it wasn’t for him. Despite being so young, it’s a day I will always remember.”

Amber, who is now an adult, was soon reunited with Samantha and stepdad Eddie after being taken to safety and left on a wall by the elephant as the later family waited out the tsunami on their hotel's first floor.

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Amber’s mum Samantha added: "For the elephant to sense something, run away like that and pop Amber up on a wall is incredible.

“The elephant saved her life.”

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Following the tragedy, locals tried to restore areas that were once popular tourist hotspots, thanks to over £10 billion in humanitarian aid.

However, Northern Aceh in Sumatra faced the brunt of the disaster with a total of 128,858 people killed, according to statistics compiled by the government and aid agencies.

Some still feel the area of Aceh will never fully recover from the destruction caused by the tsunami in the Indonesian province.

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Speaking to Reuters, Arif Munandar lost his wife, three sons, and 20 other members of his family in the disaster.

Munandar has since rebuilt his house in what is now considered to be a high-risk zone with fears another disaster could strike without warning them.

He said: “Everyone has trauma from that time but we can’t be afraid all the time. What we need now is to know how to survive wherever we are because disaster will come without notice.”

  • Earthquake

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