PHANG NGA (THAILAND), Dec. 26 (Reuters / EP) –
Indonesia, Thailand and India pay tribute this Thursday to the more than 230,000 people who lost their lives after the passage of a brutal tsunami generated by an underwater earthquake of magnitude 9.1 on the Richter scale on December 26, 2004.
On the morning of December 26, a powerful underwater seism with an epicenter in waters off the coast of Banda Aceh, in Indonesia, caused a tsunami with waves up to 17.4 meters high that swept the coast of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and from nine other countries.
“He still haunts me. I can remember him at all times,” said Suwanne Maliwan, a 28-year-old woman who lost her parents and five other relatives when the tsunami reached the shores of the Thai province of Phang Nga.
“Sometimes I dream that a wave is coming. I'm still afraid,” he said. “Sometimes I want to move to another place but it is not possible because I was born here. My father and mother died here,” explained this survivor of the 2004 tsunami.
This Thursday, events will be held in memory of the victims of the tsunami in Aceh, the Indonesian province most hit by giant waves, which destroyed entire villages and killed more than 125,000 people in this northern region of the island of Sumatra.
Since then, Aceh has been extensively rebuilt, with 25,600 homes and commercial, government, residential and educational buildings built within a high-risk area that in 2004 was completely devastated in 2004.
In Thailand, where more than 5,300 people died, including tourists who were in the resorts of the islands of the Andaman Sea, the authorities have officiated a funeral ceremony in memory of the deceased and have called for extreme precautionary measures before natural disasters.
“The Government wants to raise security standards and raise awareness in all sectors to be prepared and to protect people from disasters,” said Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Bunyamanee, at the commemorative event, in which he announced that on December 26 has been listed by the Government as the National Accident Prevention Day.
Authorities have placed wreaths on the funerary monument reminiscent of tsunami victims in Phang Nga province, to pay tribute to Bhumi Jensen, nephew of the King of Thailand who was last seen doing water skiing when the tsunami reached Thai coasts. In addition, an interreligious ceremony is planned for the Buddhist, Christian and Muslim victims of the tsunami.
The survivors of Ban Nam Khem, the Thai town most hit by the tsunami, will hold a candlelight vigil this Thursday night to remember the deceased. The giant waves killed 1,400 people in this fishing population.
In India, where the tsunami killed more than 10,000 people, the survivors will also hold ceremonies in memory of the mortal victims. In Sri Lanka, the tsunami took the lives of more than 35,000 people ahead.