Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

The day 230,000 lives were lost: Asia remembers devastating tsunami

On the morning after Christmas in 2004, a 9.1 magnitude quake off northern Sumatra island triggered a tsunami with waves as high as 17.4 metres

Communities across Asia commemorated the 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 that swept over vulnerable coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries.

People pray to mark the 15th anniversary when an earthquake and resulting tsunami killed at least 170,000 people in the country and thousands of others in neighbouring countries, at a cemetery containing mass graves in Ulee Lheue, Banda Aceh on December 26, 2019. On December 26, 2004, a monstrous 9.3 magnitude quake struck undersea off the coast of Sumatra, sparking a tsunami nearly 100 feet (30 meters) high that killed more than 220,000 across a string of Indian Ocean countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. / AFP / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN
People pray to mark the 15th anniversary when an earthquake and resulting tsunami at a cemetery containing mass graves in Ulee Lheue, Banda Aceh on December 26, 2019. AFP

Memorials were held 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.

epa08090140 Kids play in a tsunami damaged house in Lampaseh, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, 19 December 2019 (issued 26 December 2019). December 2019 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, or 'Boxing Day Tsunami', which was triggered by a 9.2 earthquake in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, and struck on 26 December 2004, killing an estimated 230,000 people in 13 countries along the Indian Ocean. EPA/HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK
Kids play in a tsunami damaged house in Lampaseh, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. EPA

"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.

Updated: December 30, 2019 04:43 AM

SHARE

SHARE

Most Popular