IT WAS Boxing Day morning, 2004, and on the beaches of Sri Lanka and Thailand, tourists and locals were making the most of the sunny holiday season.

Deep beneath the Indian Ocean, a massive 9.1 earthquake triggered a tsunami, with waves as high as 17.4 metres (57 feet).

It devastated some communities in seconds and killed more than 230,000 people, destroying villages, towns and livelihoods of more than half a million more.

The areas worst hit included Indonesia’s Northern Aceh province, where around 128,000 people died and Sri Lanka, where the death toll hit 40,000.

The day after the tragedy, which dominated news headlines around the world, Glasgow leapt into action.

Glasgow Times:

A fund to help disaster victims was established by Glasgow City Council and businessman Neil Butler, who had been in Sri Lanka with his wife and two children. Supported by then Lord Provost Liz Cameron, the Evening Times, and a host of Glasgow businesses and charities including David Hayman’s Spirit Aid, the Harlequin Group and the Ubiquitous Chip, they decided to concentrate aid efforts on the Sri Lankan area of Hikkaduwa, a fishing village where around 4000 people died and many more had lost their livelihoods.

Around £750,000 was raised within days.

The money bought and repaired fishing boats, providing food for around 17,000 people in the area. It built schools and a residence for women with disabilities, and, with support from the Scottish Arts Council, IN SITU (the European art-in-public spaces network) and Glasgow School of Art, it also helped establish the Creation Centre in Dodanduwa, a place where, through music and the arts children and adults could try to come to terms with what had happened.

In an interview with the Glasgow Times in 2007, three years after the disaster, Neil Butler said: “The last time I was at the centre, someone stood up and said, ‘we are simple fishermen, no-one has ever done anything for us. Please can you say thank you to the people of Glasgow’. It was very, very emotional.”

Glasgow Times:

Just two weeks after the tragedy, Reverend Neil Galbraith of the charity Glasgow the Caring City, sent the first supplies to Sri Lanka.

On January 24, thousands of music fans jammed phone hotlines to get tickets for Scotland’s Tsunami Aid concert. Franz Ferdinand, Travis and Texas appeared at the then SECC.

READ MORE: I Grew Up in Glasgow: 'A tenement was like a small community'

On February 4, a team from Glasgow the Caring City travelled to Sri Lanka after Glaswegians donated £6 million of aid, including blankets, clothes and medical supplies.

Arts festival co-ordinator Neil Butler told the Glasgow Times he had been struck by the resilience of the Sri Lankans.

“This kind of thing didn’t happen there – they had monsoons, certainly, maybe a couple of times a year but nothing like this. And yet they pulled together, started to rebuild,” he said.

On the day the tsunami hit, Neil and his family were at their hotel on the beach.

When the first wave hit, rushing into the hotel garden and knocking over bits of furniture, there were shouts and laughter, he recalls.

“The wave was so sudden, it caught everyone by surprise – but they thought it was just a one-off, a freak occurrence,” he told our reporter. “Everyone was shaken, but laughing as they picked themselves up. But as the second, even bigger wave came in, suddenly there was panic.”

Glasgow Times:

The third wave destroyed most of the hotel. Making the difficult decision to send their children inland with other survivors, Neil and his friends stayed to help the villagers, who did everything they could for the visitors.

READ MORE: Stunning Glasgow photos from the 50s capture all of city life

“They could have run away, looked for their own families, made sure they were safe – but they didn’t,” he says. “Our Sri Lankan friends did so much to help us, it was wonderful. There was no question we wouldn’t try to help them in return.”