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Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.
It is the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes.
As well as the sideways movement between the plates, the sea floor is estimated to have risen by several metres, displacing an estimated 30 cubic kilometres (7.2 cu mi) of water and triggering devastating tsunami waves.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake occurred at UTC on 26 December with the epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
The shock had a moment magnitude of 9.1–9.3 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent).
At this point the India Plate subducts beneath the Burma Plate, which carries the Nicobar Islands, the Andaman Islands, and northern Sumatra.
The India Plate sinks deeper and deeper beneath the Burma Plate until the increasing temperature and pressure drive volatiles out of the subducting plate.
All of them are believed to be greater than magnitude 9, but no accurate measurements were available at the time.