Boxing Day Tsunami: countries remember the dead – Telegraph.co.uk
In Aceh, the Indonesian province where nearly 170,000 peope died, members of
the largely Muslim population packed into mosques for prayers and a major
outdoor cermony was held in a 20-acre park.
“We are gathered here today to remember the historic disaster that took place
on December 26,” Zaini Abdullah, Aceh’s governor, told a memorial in Banda
Aceh, the provincial capital. “As we know, it was one of the biggest to have
ever happened on our Earth.”
The anniversary was both an opportunity to remember the dead and the need to
protect the living, the governor added.
“This experience reminds us that Indonesia a place prone to natural
disasters. We have to prepare when disaster comes, so we can mitigate it
fast and right.”
Asmaiyah, a 56-year-old cleric, was one of hundreds of outsiders who travelled
to Banda Aceh for the anniversary events. “We want to show our support to
our brothers and sisters in Aceh by attending the [tsunami] commemoration,”
she told the Jakarta Post.
In Thailand, where nearly 5,400 people died, including around 2,000
foreigners, Mark Kent, the British ambassador, was among those at an
official memorial service in Phang Nga province.
Black clad officials, survivors and tourists gathered in Thailand’s Phang Nga
province to say prayers and leave flowers around Police Boat 813 – a vessel
that became a symbol of the catastrophe after being swept more than one mile
inland by the tsunami. The boat has since become a tourist attraction and a site
of pilgrimage for mourners.
“I’m praying to the gods that they should take care of them in heaven,”
a female griever named as Illaycha, who lost five children, told Reuters.
The Boxing Day catastrophe began at 7.58am local time on December 26 when a
9.1 magnitude “megathrust” quake tore through the seabed under the Indian
The result was carnage on an almost unimaginable scale. Entire villages were
pulverised by the tsunami generated by the earthquake, as walls of water,
travelling as fast as commerical jets, slammed into coastal areas. At one
point, rescue workers were pulling an estimated 3,000 bodies from the rubble
of Banda Aceh each day.
A decade later, a £4.5 billion aid and reconstruction effort means there is
scant sign of the physical devastation wrought by the disaster in places
such as Aceh, where 140,000 homes have been rebuilt.
But the mental scars remain. Junaidi Ramli, was away from Aceh when the
tsunami came but lost eight relatives. On Friday, he visited a mass grave in
Siron where nearly 47,000 victims were buried. “I accept it as fate,”
he told Malaysia’s The Star newspaper.