PLTD Apung 1: A Poignant Monument to the 2004 Tsunami

Rusting hulk of PLTD Apung 1 in Sumatra (Image: Andy Doyle; abandoned generator ship PLTD Apung 1 in Banda Aceh, Sumatra)

In the world of offbeat travel destinations, the abandoned electric generator ship PLTD Apung 1 may be one of the more unusual. But it’s also a poignant monument, and a chilling reminder of the awesome power of nature.

On December 26, 2004, a massive undersea earthquake shook the Indian Ocean to its core, unleashing a devastating series of tsunamis that battered coastal communities with 30-foot-high waves and killed up to 280,000 people across 14 countries.

PLTD Apung 1 in Banda Aceh (Image: via Google Street View)

The Boxing Day Tsunami, as it became known, was triggered by the third largest earthquake in recorded history, its epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, in Indonesia. The 2,600 ton PLTD Apung 1 was one of thousands of vessels both great and small to be carried kilometres inland by the terrifying might of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

The electric generator ship came to rest in Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, on the island of Sumatra. The PLTD Apung 1 was reportedly deposited three kilometres inland by the tidal wave, which carried it from the beach at Ule Lheu and deposited it close to the city centre, crushing two houses and tragically killing their inhabitants.

PLTD Apung 1: a monument to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (Image: Si Gam Acèh)

The vessel, which was owned by a local power generating company, now serves as a monument to those tho lost their lives in the Boxing Day tsunami. Visitors can explore the PLTD Apung 1’s rusting hulk, which has also been fitted with a fountain, jogging area and walkway.

Nearby, a number of mass grave sites and a Tsunami Museum itself are poignant reminders of that terrible natural disaster. Along with the rust-streaked form of PLTD Apung 1, they’re now considered some of the most important landmarks in Banda Aceh.


About the author: Alex Williams




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