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 (57 feet) that swept over vulnerable coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries.
GRAPHIC: Waves of devastation – here
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.
“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.