27 Dec 2014

2004 Indian Ocean tsunami remembered

7:42 am on 27 December 2014

Remembrance ceremonies have been taking place across Asia, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people.

At Siron in the Indonesian province of Aceh - the worst-hit area - Vice-President Jusuf Kalla led tributes to the dead at a mass grave.

In Thailand, survivors from Europe were among those who laid wreaths on the beach at the resort of Khao Lak, the BBC reported.

In Aceh's capital, Banda Aceh, Mr Kalla thanked local volunteers and the outside world for helping Aceh recover from the tragedy. He also presented awards to ambassadors from the donor nations.

A Thai student places candles on a sand sculpture during commemorations on the the tenth anniversary of the 2004 tsunami at Patong beach in Phuket.

A Thai student places candles on a sand sculpture at Patong beach in Phuket during commemorations on the the tenth anniversary of the 2004 tsunami. Photo: AFP

Earlier, thousands of people earlier gathered at Banda Aceh's Great Mosque - a 19th Century building that was one of the few structures in the town to survive the tsunami.

Imam Asman Ismail said the tsunami had taught a "valuable lesson" to Aceh, which had been the scene of an armed conflict for nearly 30 years.

"After the tsunami, no-one fights against each other; people live in harmony and peace till this day," he said.

Efforts to end the conflict resumed after the tsunami, culminating in a peace deal between the government and the rebels in August 2005.

In Thailand, people are marking the anniversary with a series of solemn events and religious rites throughout the day.

Prime Minister Prayuth laid a wreath for victims at the site of a beached police boat that has become a symbol of the disaster.

Thai police boat 813 was swept nearly 2km in from the sea at Bang Niang near Phuket.

Two tourists comfort each other during a memorial service to mark the tenth anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, in Phang-nga province.

Two tourists comfort each other during a memorial service to mark the tenth anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, in Phang-nga province. Photo: AFP

"This heavy loss serves as a reminder and lesson for everyone" he told thousands of guests.

In the small fishing village of Ban Nam Khem, Phang Nga province, people have been laying flowers at a memorial wall displaying names of the victims.

The village was devastated by the massive waves.

Nearly 5,500 people died in Thailand, half of whom were foreign tourists.

The strength of the quake off Indonesia's coast - the biggest tremor in the world since 1964 - unleashed giant waves that rushed across the Indian Ocean.

The tsunami also hit Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Maldives and later reached the east African nations' of Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania.

Tsunami warning systems and emergency procedures have been implemented since the disaster to try to minimise casualties in the future.

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