Loading...
The Financial Express

230,000 people lost in a day: Asia remembers devastating 2004 tsunami victims

Reuters | Published: December 26, 2019 13:09:01 | Updated: December 26, 2019 17:02:43


Submerged buildings are seen near the pier at Ton Sai Bay in Thailand's Phi Phi island on December 28, 2004 after a tsunami hit the area — Reuters/Files Submerged buildings are seen near the pier at Ton Sai Bay in Thailand's Phi Phi island on December 28, 2004 after a tsunami hit the area — Reuters/Files

Communities across Asia commemorated the 0.23 million (230,000) victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami on Thursday, the 15th anniversary of one of the world’s most deadly disasters.

On the morning after Christmas Day in 2004, a 9.1 magnitude quake off northern Sumatra island triggered a tsunami with waves as high as 17.4 metres (57 feet) that swept over vulnerable coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and nine other countries.

Memorials were scheduled in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where entire villages were flattened and more than 125,000 people perished in the giant waves. Since then, the area has been largely rebuilt, with some 25,600 residential, commercial, government, and school buildings constructed inside a high-risk zone, that had suffered virtually total devastation in 2004.

In Thailand, where more than 5,300 people were killed, including tourists visiting resort islands in the Andaman Sea, officials held a memorial ceremony and called for more awareness and preparedness for disasters.

“The government wants to lift safety standards... and build awareness across all sectors in preparing and protecting people against disasters,” Deputy Interior Minister, Nipon Bunyamanee, said at an opening ceremony. He said December 26 had been designated national accident prevention day.

Officials later laid wreaths at a memorial centre in Phang Nga province to pay tribute to King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s nephew, Bhumi Jensen, who was last seen jet-skiing off the coast when the tsunami hit.

An interfaith service for Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist victims was also held.

Survivors from Ban Nam Khem, the worst hit Thai village, will hold a candlelight vigil in the evening. At least 1,400 people were killed when waves struck the fishing village.

In India, where more than 10,000 people died in the tsunami, survivors also were to hold memorial ceremonies. More than 35,000 people died in Sri Lanka.

 

Share if you like