Disasters & Accidents

Indonesia remembers victims of 2004 tsunami

Jakarta, Dec 26 (EFE).- Indonesia on Monday remembered the thousands of people killed by the tsunami in 2004 with various religious ceremonies, marking the 18th anniversary of the deadly waves that wreaked havoc on the coasts of 15 countries across the Indian Ocean.

At 8 am on the morning of Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumtra triggered a tsunami that killed nearly 230,000 people worldwide, with the largest death toll being recorded in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

Aceh provincial authorities, Indonesian police and local fisherman’s associations, along with other groups, organized prayers in the memory of nearly 170,000 victims of the tsunami in Sumatra, which was hit by up to 30-meter high waves.

The Aceh Transport Service said in the announcement for the event that the “grief and pain were still very alive in the people of Aceh,” and the tsunami memorial was being held as a lesson to ensure a better future, so that Aceh “could grow stronger with a culture of awareness for disaster (mitigation).”

The fishermen of Aceh, where the day was declared a holiday in 2019, once again docked their boats and stopped work as a mark of respect for the dead on the anniversary of the tragedy.

Badruddin Yunus, the director of local fishermen’s guild Panglima Laot, told EFE that prayers for the deceased were held in every sub-district of Aceh.

Provincial capital Banda Aceh, the “ground zero” of the tsunami, was completely flattened with just a few buildings left standing after the disaster, including the Baiturrahman mosque, which has become a place of pilgrimage and prayer for the families of victims and survivors.

The catastrophe was so massive in this part of Indonesia that it resulted in a peace agreement between the sepratist Muslim rebels and the government, after decades of armed conflict.

The tsunami, triggered by one of the most powerful earthquakes ever, caused deaths in 14 countries, some of them as far from the Indonesian archipelago as Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

The worst affected countries were Indonesia – with around 170,000 dead and missing, and most of the casualties taking place in northern Sumatra – Sri Lanka (30,000 deaths), India (16,000) and Thailand (8,200).

At Thailand’s western tourist beach of Khao Lak, close to the popular island of Phuket, around 300 people gathered on Monday morning to attend an inter-religious ceremony in the memory of tsunami victims at the Ban Nam Khem memorial.

Some of the attendees, including victims’ families, placed floral tributes at the spot, while Buddhis monks, and Muslim and Catholic representatives recited chants and prayers. EFE


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