ON Dec 26, 2004, the Asian tsunami struck and the Pearl of the Orient was not spared.
Penang was the hardest hit state among others in Malaysia when the tsunami raged in this part of the world. It was triggered by a 9.3 magnitude undersea earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Out of 68 deaths recorded in Malaysia, 52 of the fatalities happened in Penang with 34 lives taken in Pantai Pasir Panjang in Balik Pulau.
The deaths in Penang were said to include many picnickers and children who were playing on the beaches.
Although the damages in Penang were not as severe as those seen in other countries that were in the direct path of the tsunami, houses in fishing villages along the coastal areas of Balik Pulau and Batu Ferringhi were destroyed.
Tidal waves sent motorcycles crashing and cars washed with mud at stretches along Gurney Drive.
Bus driver Zulkifli Mohd Noor who was in Balik Pulau lost five children in the tragedy.
As it was the year end school holiday then, the family was at the beach when the waves came and swept them away.
In Batu Ferringhi, businessman A. Suppiah almost lost his daughter S. Thulaasi, then 22 days old.
The huge waves smashed into Suppiah's shop house and then swept out a mattress with a sleeping baby on it into the sea.
Luckily, the second wave brought the mattress and the baby back to the beach.