NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) Book for Class VIII
Subject: English
Chapter: Chapter 2 – The Tsunami

Class VIII NCERT English Text Book Chapter 2 The Tsunami is given below.

Before you read

Look at the map of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands given here.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

Now read the sentences  below. Rewrite the incorrect onesm  after correcting the mistakes.

1. Katchall is an island.

2. It is part of the Andaman group of islands.

3. Nancowry is an island in the Nicobar group.

4. Katchall and Nancowry are more than a hundred miles apart. (Hint: the scale of the map is given.)

5. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are to the west of India.

6. The Nicobar Islands are to the north of the Andaman Islands.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

A tsunami is a very large and powerful wave caused by earthquakes under the sea. On 26 December 2004, a tsunami hit Thailand and parts of India such as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Tamil Nadu coast. Here are some stories of courage and survival.

Did animals sense that a tsunami was coming? Some stories suggest that they did.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami


These stories are all from the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

Ignesious was the manager of a cooperative society in Katchall. His wife woke him up at  6 a.m. because she felt an earthquake. Ignesious carefully took his television set off its  table and put it down on the ground so that it would not fall and break. Then the family  rushed out of the house.

When the tremors stopped, they saw the sea rising. In the chaos and confusion, two of  his children caught hold of the hands of their mother’s father and mother’s brother, and rushed in the opposite direction. He never saw them again. His wife was also swept away.  Only the three other children who came with him were saved.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

Sanjeev was a policeman, serving in the Katchall island of the  Nicobar group of islands. He somehow managed to save himself,  his wife and his baby daughter from the waves. But then he heard  cries for help from the wife of John, the guesthouse cook. Sanjeev jumped into the water to rescue her, but they were both swept away.

Thirteen year-old Meghna was swept away along with her parents and seventy-seven  other people. She spent two days floating in the sea, holding on to a wooden door. Eleven times she saw relief helicopters overhead, but they did not see her. She was  brought to the shore by a wave, and was found walking on the seashore in a daze.

Almas Javed was ten years old. She was a student of Carmel Convent in Port Blair where  her father had a petrol pump. Her mother Rahila’s home was in Nancowry island. The  family had gone there to celebrate Christmas.

When the tremors came early in the morning, the family was sleeping. Almas’s father  saw the sea water recede. He understood that the water would come rushing back with great force. He woke everyone up and tried to rush them to a safer place.

As they ran, her grandfather was hit on the head by something and he fell down. Her  father rushed to help him. Then came the first giant wave that swept both of them away.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

Almas’s mother and aunts stood clinging to  the leaves of a coconut  tree, calling out to her.  A wave uprooted the  tree, and they too were washed away.

Almas saw a log of wood floating. She  climbed on to it. Then she fainted. When she woke up, she was in a

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

hospital in Kamorta. From there she was brought to Port Blair.

The little girl does not want to talk about the incident with anyone. She is still  traumatised.

Comprehension Check

Say whether the following are true or false.

1. Ignesious lost his wife, two children, his father-in-law, and his brother-in-law in the tsunami.

2. Sanjeev made it to safety after the tsunami.

3. Meghna was saved by a relief helicopter.

4. Almas’s father realised that a tsunami was going to hit the island.

5. Her mother and aunts were washed away with the tree that they were holding on to.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami


Tilly Smith (a British school girl) was able to save many lives when the tsunami  struck Phuket beach in Thailand. Though she has won a number of awards, her  parents have not allowed their daughter to be interviewed on television and  made into a heroine. Why do you think they took that decision?


Now here is a story from Thailand.

The Smith family from South-East England were celebrating Christmas at a beach resort in southern Thailand. Tilly Smith was a ten-year-old schoolgirl; her sister was seven years old. Their parents were Penny and Colin Smith.

It was 26 December 2004. Deadly tsunami waves were already on their way. They had been triggered by a massive earthquake off northern Sumatra earlier that morning.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

“The water was swelling and kept coming in,” Penny Smith remembered. “The beach was getting smaller and smaller. I didn’t know what was happening.”

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

But Tilly Smith sensed that something was wrong. Her mind kept  going back to a geography lesson she had taken in England just  two weeks before she flew out to Thailand with her family.

Tilly saw the sea slowly rise, and start to foam, bubble and form  whirlpools. She remembered that she had seen this in class in a  video of a tsunami that had hit the Hawaiian islands in 1946. Her  geography teacher had shown her class the video, and told them  that tsunamis can be caused by earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides.

Tilly started to scream at her family to get off the beach. “She talked about an  earthquake under the sea. She got more and more hysterical,” said her mother Penny. “I  didn’t know what a tsunami was. But seeing my daughter so frightened, I thought   mething serious must be going on.”

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

Tilly’s parents took her and her sister away from the beach, to the swimming pool at the hotel.  A number of other tourists also left the beach with them. “Then it was as if the entire sea had  come out after them. I was screaming, ‘Run!’”

The family took refuge in the third floor of the hotel. The building withstood the surge of  three tsunami waves. If they had stayed on the beach, they would not have been alive.

The Smiths later met other tourists who had lost entire families. Thanks to Tilly and her  geography lesson, they had been forewarned. Tilly went back to her school in England and told her classmates her terrifying tale.

Comprehension Check

Answer the following in a phrase or sentence.

1. Why did Tilly’s family come to Thailand?

2. What were the warning signs that both Tilly and her mother saw?

3. Do you think Tilly’s mother was alarmed by them?

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

4. Where had Tilly seen the sea behaving in the same strange fashion?


5. Where did the Smith family and the others on the beach go to escape from the tsunami?

6. How do you think her geography teacher felt when he heard about what Tilly had done in Phuket?


Look carefully at the picture of the boy and his dog, and try to describe the things  that you see, using just words and phrases.

Either the teacher or one of the  students can write down the words and phrases on the blackboard.

This is how you can start —
calm, blue sea …. ruined huts………

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

Before the giant waves slammed into the coast in India and Sri Lanka, wild and domestic  animals seemed to know what was about to happen.

They fled to safety. According to eyewitness accounts, elephants screamed  and an for higher ground; dogs refused to go   outdoors;

 and zoo animals rushed into their shelters and could not be enticed to come back out.

Many people believe that animals possess a sixth sense and know when the earth is going  to shake.

Some experts believe that animals’ more acute hearing helps them to hear or feel  the earth’s vibration. They can sense an approaching disaster long before humans realise
what’s going on.

NCERT Class VIII English Chapter 2 The Tsunami

We cannot be sure whether animals have a sixth sense or not. But the fact is that the giant  waves that rolled through the Indian Ocean killed more than 150,000 people in a dozen  countries; but not many animals have been reported dead.

Along India’s Cuddalore coast, where thousands of people perished, buffaloes, goats and  dogs were found unharmed. The Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is home to a variety of  animals including elephants, leopards, and 130 species of birds. Sixty visitors were washed
away from the Patanangala beach inside the park; but no animal carcasses were found,  except for two water buffaloes. About an hour before the tsunami hit, people at Yala National Park had observed three elephants running away from the Patanangala beach.

A Sri Lankan gentleman who lives on the coast near Galle said his two dogs would not go  for their daily run on the beach. “They are usually excited to go on this outing,” he said.  But on that day they refused to go, and most probably saved his life.

Comprehension check

Answer using a phrase or a sentence.

1. In the tsunami 150,000 people died. How many animals died?

2. How many people and animals died in Yala National Park?

3. What do people say about the elephants of Yala National Park?

4. What did the dogs in Galle do?

Working With the Text

Discuss the following questions in class. Then write your own answers.

1. When he felt the earthquake, do you think Ignesious immediately worried about a tsunami? Give reasons for  your answer. Which sentence in the text tells you that the Ignesious family did not have any time to discuss and
plan their course of action after the tsunami struck?

2. Which words in the list below describe Sanjeev, in your opinion? (Look up the dictionary for words that you are not sure of.)

cheerful          ambitious            brash               brave             careless        heroic              

 selfless          heartless           humorous

Use words from the list to complete the three sentences below.

(i) I don’t know if Sanjeev was cheerful, ___________ or ___________.

(ii) I think that he was very brave,___________ and___________.

(iii) Sanjeev was not heartless, ___________or___________.

3. How are Meghna and Almas’s stories similar?

4. What are the different ways in which Tilly’s parents could have reacted to her behaviour? What would you have done if you were in their place?

5. If Tilly’s award was to be shared, who do you think she should share it with — her parents or her geography teacher?

6. What are the two different ideas about why so few animals were killed in the tsunami? Which idea do you find more believable?

Working with Language

1. Go through Part-I carefully, and make a list of as many words as you can find that indicate movement of  different kinds. (There is one word that occurs repeatedly — count how many times!) Put them into three categories.

fast movement slow movement neither slow nor fast Can you explain why there are many words in one column and not in the others?

2. Fill in the blanks in the sentences below (the verbs given in brackets will give you a clue).

(i) The earth trembled, but not many people felt the _________. (tremble)

(ii) When the zoo was flooded, there was a lot of _________ and many animals escaped into the countryside. (confuse)

(iii) We heard with _________ that the lion had been recaptured. (relieve)

(iv) The zookeeper was stuck in a tree and his _________ was filmed by the TV crew. (rescue)

(v) There was much _________ in the village when the snake charmer came visiting. (excite)

3. Study the sentences in the columns A and B.

Meghna was swept away. The waves swept Meghna away.
Almas’s grandfather was hit on thehead. Something hit Almas’s grandfather onthe head.
Sixty visitors were washed away. The waves washed away sixty visitors.
No animal carcasses were found. People did not find any animal carcasses.

Compare the sentences in A to the ones in B. Who is the ‘doer’ of the action in every case? Is the ‘doer’ mentioned in A, or in B?

Notice the verbs in A: ‘was swept away’, ‘was hit’, ‘were washed away’, ‘were found’. They are in the passive  form. The sentences are in the Passive Voice. In these sentences, the focus is not on the person who does the action.

In B, the ‘doer’ of the action is named. The verbs are in the active form. The sentences are in the Active Voice.

Say whether the following sentences are in the Active or the Passive voice. Write A or P after each sentence as shown in the first sentence.

(i) Someone stole my bicycle. __A__

(ii) The tyres were deflated by the traffic police. _______________

(iii) I found it last night in a ditch near my house. _______________

(iv) It had been thrown there. _______________

(v) My father gave it to the mechanic. _______________

(vi) The mechanic repaired it for me. _______________

Speaking and Writing

1. Suppose you are one of the volunteers who went to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for relief work after the  tsunami. You work in the relief camps, distributing food, water and medicine among the victims. You listen to  the various stories of bravery of ordinary people even as they fight against odds to bring about some semblance  of normalcy in their lives. You admire their grit and determination. Write a diary entry.

You may start in this way.
31 December, 2004

The killer tsunami struck these islands five days ago. But the victims are being brought in even now. Each one has a story to tell…

2. The story shows how a little girl saved the lives of many tourists when a tsunami struck the beach, thanks to  the geography lesson that she had learnt at school. She remembered the visuals of a tsunami and warned her parents.

Do you remember any incident when something that you learnt in the classroom helped you in some way outside the classroom? Write your experiences in a paragraph of about 90–100 words or narrate it to the whole class like an anecdote.

Katchall is one of the largest islands in the central group. It is about 61 sq miles in area. It is slightly hilly at the centre, but otherwise remarkably flat.

Betty at the Party

‘When I was at the party,’ Said Betty, aged just four, ‘A little girl fell off her chair Right down upon the floor; And  all the other little girls Began to laugh, but me – I didn’t laugh a single bit’, Said Betty seriously.

‘Why not?’– her mother asked her, Full of delight to find That Betty – bless her little heart! – Had been so  sweetly kind. ‘Why didn’t you laugh, my darling? Or don’t you like to tell?’ ‘I didn’t laugh,’ said Betty, ‘Because it was I that fell.’

Geography Lession

Can you imagine what your city would look like if you saw it from ten thousand feet above the ground? Neatly  planned and perfect in proportion like a geometric design, it would strike you as something very different from  what it actually is while you are in the thick of it.

Here is a poet’s description of just such a view of the city, and some questions that come to his mind.

When the jet sprang into the sky, it was clear why the city had developed the way it had, seeing it scaled six  inches to the mile. There seemed an inevitability about what on ground had looked haphazard, unplanned and without style

When the jet sprang into the sky. When the jet reached ten thousand feet,  it was clear why the country had  cities where the rivers ran and why the valleys were populated. The logic of geography — that land and water  attracted man — was clearly delineated

When the jet reached ten thousand feet. When the jet rose six miles high, it was clear the earth was round and  that it had more sea than land.

But it was difficult to understand that the men on the earth found causes to hate each other, to build walls across  cities and to kill. From that height, it was not clear why.



inevitable: that cannot be avoided
haphazard: without plan or order
delineated: shown

Working with the Poem

1. Find three or four phrases in stanzas one and two which are likely to occur in a geography lesson.

2. Seen from the window of an aeroplane, the city appears

(i) as haphazard as on ground.

(ii) as neat as a map.

(iii) as developed as necessary.

Mark the right answer.

3. Which of the following statements are examples of “the logic of geography”?

(i) There are cities where there are rivers.

(ii) Cities appear as they are not from six miles above the ground.

(iii) It is easy to understand why valleys are populated.

(iv) It is difficult to understand why humans hate and kill one another.

(v) The earth is round, and it has more sea than land.

4. Mention two things that are

(i) clear from the height.

(ii) not clear from the height.

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