Thousands of mourners on Thursday flocked to mass graves in Indonesia’s Aceh Province to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, one of the worst natural disasters in history.Dec 27th 2019 · 2 min read
Sat, Dec 28, 2019 - Page 4
REMEMBRANCE:Mourners prayed at mass graves on Thursday to mark the 15th anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that killed over 170,000 in Aceh
AFP, BANDA ACEH, Indonesia
People read the Koran as they pray at a mass grave site for the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami, during a commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the disaster in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Thursday.Photo: AP
Thousands of mourners on Thursday flocked to mass graves in Indonesia’s Aceh Province to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, one of the worst natural disasters in history.On a grassy field in Aceh Besar Regency, where at least 47,000 victims were laid to rest, family members and relatives prayed, scattered flower petals and comforted each other.Among them was Nurhayati, who lost her youngest daughter in the disaster.“I came here every year because I miss her so much, she was only 17, just started college,” the 65-year-old told reporters, sobbing.“It’s been 15 years, but even until now every time I see an ocean, even on TV, I shudder and feel like a big wave would be coming soon,” she said.Almost 170,000 people were killed in Aceh alone when an undersea magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck the predominantly Muslim province on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering massive tsunami waves that also killed another 50,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, even as far as Somalia.About 500,000 people were left homeless by the catastrophe that destroyed much of the province.Muhammad Ikramullah was 13 when the tsunami hit, killing his parents and younger sibling. He spent years moving around, living with relatives and friends until he was able to provide for himself.“I am still traumatized… I don’t think I will ever forget what happened,” the 28-year-old said.The remains of his family have never been found, but like most people who visit the mass grave every year, Ikramullah only wanted to pray for his loved ones, even though their bodies might not be buried there.Years after the disaster, bodies are still being discovered. Last year, the remains of dozens of people were found in a newly built housing complex.
Some have never discovered where their family members were buried.“I don’t know where my mother was buried, but I keep coming here because I have a feeling she was close,” Jony China told reporters.Last year, a tsunami triggered by an earthquake killed nearly 500 people in Banten Province.
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