2004 Sri Lanka tsunami train wreck

train wreck

The 2004 Sri Lanka tsunami train wreck was the largest single rail disaster in history (by death toll). It was caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.[1]

Train #50, the Matara Express, also known as the "Queen of the Sea" line, was a regular train between the Sri Lankan capital Colombo and Matara. The train, overcrowded with 1800+ passengers, left Colombo on 26 December 2004.[2][3]

Tsunami strikes the train


At 9:30 am in the village of Peraliya gigantic waves arrived at the beach. The first wave flooded the carriages and caused panic among the passengers. The next wave arrived after 10 minutes. It was huge and washed away the train and smashed it against trees and houses which were nearby.[3]



The huge waves of tsunami destroyed the train and only 150 passengers out of more than 1800 survived. About 1700 were reported dead, even though only 900 bodies were recovered. The Sri Lankan authorities did not know where the train was washed to. After 4 pm, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's helicopter identified it. Even though there were rescue operations not more than 150 people survived and the village was also washed away by the waves.


  1. xunydesign (19 February 2010). "Ashish Joshi - Tsunami Train Disaster - 2004" – via YouTube.
  2. Gunawardena, Ralph (July–August 2015). "The Ordeal of 591 Manitoba". Canadian Railway Modeler. 20 (2): 16–17, 20–21.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Carl Strand and John Masek, ed. (August 2008). Sumatra-Andaman Islands Earthquake and Tsunami of December 26, 2004: Lifeline Performance. Reston, VA: ASCE Press, Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering. ISBN 978-0-7844-0951-0. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2016.