Millions of people also saw their livelihoods and homes wiped out in the disaster.
The DEC launched an appeal on 29 December 2004 to respond to the needs of the countries most affected and raised £392 million in an unprecedented response by the British public.
More than three quarters of a million households benefitted from DEC funds across seven countries, with the majority of the money being spent in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India.
The greatest percentage of money from the total response was used to rebuild homes destroyed by the tsunami.
Due to the scale of destruction, the DEC decided the funds should be spent over three years rather than 18 months in order to secure lives in the short term and to rebuild communities and livelihoods in the longer.
Aid agencies more prepared for humanitarian crises of smaller proportions faced unchartered territory in dealing with a disaster on such a scale and involving not just reconstruction but wholesale construction - normally the province of governments or the private sector.
DEC member agencies constructed more than 13,700 houses, 55 schools and 68 health centres using DEC funds and an additional 6,200 houses using funds from other sources.
The greatest destruction was in Aceh Province, at the northern end of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where 167,000 people were reported dead or missing, more than 500,000 were displaced and more than 800km of coastline was devastated.
As well as the tsunami, events such as the Kashmir earthquake of 2005 and earthquakes off Sumatra in 2009 have demonstrated that aid agencies can play an important role in post-disaster construction programmes where funding is available.
It was recognised that agencies needed to capture and share the invaluable lessons learned in Aceh and the DEC commissioned a special study based on agencies' experiences, Lessons from Aceh, to contribute to the growing body of knowledge relating to humanitarianism and the built environment.
The final year of funding concentrated on securing significant investment for supporting agriculture and people’s livelihoods and further investing in building the local capacity for people to be able to face disasters in the future, including stockpiling relief items.