Asian Survivors Remember Tsunami Victims

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Dec. 26 (UPI) — Memorial services were held in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh Saturday to remember those killed five years ago in a devastating tsunami, witnesses said.

About 150,000 people died in and around the Indonesian city Dec. 26, 2005, when an undersea earthquake off Sumatra triggered large waves that killed a total of 250,000 people in 14 countries. Indonesian Vice President Boediono said a prayer at a mass grave site of the tsunami victims, CNN reported, while grieving residents wept and left flowers.

One woman who said her teenage children died in the tsunami told the U.S. broadcaster: “We are only human. We’ll never really forget. We still feel the trauma. And when there is another earthquake, all we can do is run and pray.”

Other tsunami-affected areas also held remembrances. In Thailand, Buddhist monks chanted prayers and grieving relatives came to the beaches to hold pictures of lost loved ones. Hundreds of tourists returned to Phuket island to hold a moment of silence to commemorate the catastrophe, the BBC reported.

Services were also held in Sri Lanka Saturday, where mourners prayed next to mass graves and observed silence at the exact moment the tsunami hit, the British broadcaster said.

“This time of year is a period for reflection for many people around the world,” Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a statement. “For the people of Sri Lanka it brings back acutely painful memories, but also for the first time in many years, a genuine sense of hope.”

The U.S. Geological Survey said a 6.0 magnitude undersea earthquake struck near Indonesia Saturday, but CNN said there were no reports of injury or damage and no tsunami warnings were issued.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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