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Historical tsunamis that hit all over the world

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Tsunami waves coming to Santa Cruz port

A video clip shows waves crashing into the port of Santa Cruz. (credit: Andre Beauregard)

Tsunamis have devastated countries all over the world, costing countless lives and leaving millions of dollars in damages behind.

Here is a look at some of the most notable tsunami waves that struck around the world.

2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

An Aceh man rescues a package of destroyed gas from his destroyed home in Banda Aceh, December 30, 2004, as clean-up work continues after the earthquake and tsunami that struck Aceh province on December 26. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY

On December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off the island of Sumatra triggered a massive tsunami. The giant water wall killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries as far away as East Africa. The Indonesian province of Aceh, which is closest to the earthquake, suffered the first and hardest hit.

Related: Tsunami Preparedness: What to do in an emergency

More than 170,000 people were killed in Indonesia alone, about three-quarters of the total death toll. More than 8,000 people in Thailand died or went missing in the disaster, and the bodies of nearly 400 victims remain unidentified and unidentified.

2011 Tohoku, Japan, earthquake and tsunami

This image taken on March 11, 2011 by Sadatsugu Tomizawa and published by Jiji Press on March 21, 2011 shows the tsunami waves hitting the Minamisuma coast in Fukushima Prefecture. Number of people confirmed dead or reported missing in Northeast Japan

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Japan, causing a tsunami and a nuclear crisis that devastated the country.

More than 18,000 people died, most of them in the tsunami, and nearly half a million people were displaced. The government acknowledges another 3,700 people – mostly from Fukushima Prefecture – died of causes related to the disaster, such as stress.

RELATED: Tsunami alert demands closure of Los Angeles and Orange County beaches after volcanic eruption in the Pacific

The days after the earthquake were terrifying for many in Japan and abroad, as explosions of hydrogen released radiation into the air and technicians worked hard to try to cool the plant’s nuclear fuel by pumping out seawater. There have been concerns and confusion about the extent of the avalanches, and how far the radiation could travel, including concerns that Tokyo and even the US West Coast could be at risk. Officials said they didn’t, but panicked shoppers as far away as China and Russia rushed to stock up on merchandise they thought would protect them.

More than 10 years later, more than 40,000 people are still unable to return home, and areas near the smashed factory are still off-limits due to pollution from the initial radiation fallout. Many in Japan said the country’s intense focus on physical rebuilding has at times overlooked other methods of treatment that need to be undertaken.

2009 Samoa earthquake and tsunami

A general view of the devastation inflicted on the devastated resort of Seabreeze following the powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake that struck 200 km from the Samoan capital Apia on Tuesday October 2, 2009 in Apia, Samoa. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

On September 29, 2009, an 8-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami of up to 40 feet that swept the region, killing 194 people, including 34 in American Samoa. Cars and boats – many of them battered and overturned – were littered the coast. Debris as small as a spoon and as large as a piece of masonry weighing several tons scattered in the mud.

Related: Volcano erupts in the Pacific Ocean, causing tsunami in the Gulf region

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said it issued an alert, but the waves reached the islands so quickly that residents only had about 10 minutes to respond. Another system designed to alert aid agencies experienced a hardware malfunction that delayed notification, but that didn’t affect the island’s residents.

The epicenter was about 120 miles south of Samoa, which has a population of 220,000, and American Samoa, which has a population of 65,000.

Four tsunami waves 15 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters) high swept ashore in American Samoa about 15 minutes after the quake, officials said, reaching a mile (1.5 kilometres) inland.

1755 Lisbon earthquake and tsunami

Engraving depicting Lisbon destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 1755. It dates from the 19th century. (Photo: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

On November 1, 1755, it was estimated to be 8.5-9.0 truck-forces in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Saint Vincent. According to the SMS Tsunami Warning, about 40 minutes after the earthquake, a massive tsunami wave swept through the port and downtown Lisbon, rushing over the Tagus River. The earthquake killed more than a third of the Portuguese capital’s total population. Tens of thousands of Portuguese people who survived the earthquake were killed by the tsunami triggered by the earthquake. According to the website, the tsunami was responsible for most of the 70,000 deaths in Portugal, Spain and Morocco.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.

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