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Mourners reflect on the year since tsunami BANDA ACEH - Mourners returned to battered shorelines Monday to mark one year since the Indian Ocean tsunami crashed ashore in a dozen countries, laying waste to coastal communities and sweeping away at least 216,000 lives. Under a clear sky and before a gentle sea, survivors, friends and relatives of those who died and world leaders commemorated those lost in one of the worst natural disasters the modern world has experienced.

In Indonesia's Aceh province, which was closest to the earthquake that spawned the waves and bore the brunt of the disaster, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono led hundreds of other officials in a minute's silence at a ceremony held on a jetty overlooking the sea. "It was under the same blue sky, exactly one year ago that mother earth unleashed her most destructive power upon us," Yudhoyono told the gathering. Similar periods of silence were to be observed at officials ceremonies in Thailand and Sri Lanka, where flags would be lowered to half-staff and bells rung in remembrance. Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu prayers services were being held across the tsunami zone.

One year ago Monday, a magnitude 9 earthquake - the most powerful in 40 years - ruptured the sea floor off Sumatra island, sending waves 33 feet high across the Indian Ocean. They crashed ashore in a dozen countries, sweeping entire villages away in Aceh and Sri Lanka, swamping resorts in Thailand and surging into coastal communities from India to east Africa.

At least 216,000 people were killed or disappeared, The Associated Press found in an assessment of government and credible relief agency figures in each country hit. The United Nations puts the number at least 223,000, though it says some countries are still updating their figures. The true toll will probably never be known - many bodies were lost at sea and in some cases the populations of places struck were not accurately recorded.

In Aceh, Yudhoyono set off a siren at 8:16 a.m. to mark the moment the first wave struck. The siren is part of a tsunami warning system that did not exist last year. He later scattered petals over a grave holding almost 47,000 bodies that were hastily buried in the days after the disaster. Hundreds of people gathered at a mosque in Kajhu village for one of scores of prayer ceremonies in the province.

"It is important for me to come here to pray for my family, may they rest in peace," said Darmawati, 39, who lost her husband, two daughters and both parents in the disaster. "I pray that God will give me strength to raise my only son who survived. Indonesia also tested a tsunami warning system for the first time Monday, sounding alarms in the western Sumatra town of Padang which sent many residents running through the streets according to an organized evacuation plan. Residents of the town had been warned ahead of time that it was a drill.

The tsunami generated one of the most generous outpourings of foreign aid ever known. Some $13 billion was pledged to relief and recovery efforts, the U.N. says, of which 75 percent has already been secured. But the pace of relief and reconstruction has been criticized, and frustration has grown among some of the 80 percent of refugees who are still living in tents, plywood barracks or the homes of family and friends.

Margareta Wahlstrom, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said people have to be patient. "If you don't do things well they will collapse in a couple of years," she told AP on Sunday. "If you don't take time to do proper planning, and ask people what they want ... then you are going to create new problems along the way." It was a somber Christmas for many of those who decided to hold private ceremonies Sunday.



Posted in Earthquake @ 26 December 2005 09:25 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

indahnesia.com lists all earthquakes that occur in Indonesia. For your convenience we display them in a list and a Google Map. It is as accurate and recent as you can imagine as we check for updates every few minutes. If an earthquake occurs in Indonesia, this is the place to check it out in the first place.






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