Jakarta – Hundreds of people gathered at a mass grave of tsunami victims in Ulee Lhue, Banda Aceh, on Monday as they prayed for the souls of those buried there.
The victims were among more than 200,000 people killed in one of the biggest tsunamis ever recorded on Dec. 26, 2004.
The people, mostly relatives of the victims, began arriving at the grave, which has become a center of commemorations, from early in the morning.
Among the crowd were acting Aceh governor Soedarmo and a number of officials of the provincial and other local administrations. Many more people also visited other mass graves such those in Aceh Besar, Siron, Lambaro and Lhoknga.
In his speech, Soedarmo said the commemoration was not aimed at opening old wounds caused by the disaster, but to learn lessons from it.
"I hope that we will always improve our knowledge of disaster management," he said as reported by tempo.co, adding that the people also needed to always remain on the alert for possible disasters to prevent any unnecessary loss of life.
M. Yacob, an executive of Ulee Lheu mosque, said that some 14,500 victims of the tsunami were buried at the mass grave. Yacob was a survivor of the tsunami although he was swept away more than 2 kilometers.
Aceh was the region worst affected by the tsunami, which also hit other countries including India, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The disaster occurred following a strong earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter scale.
Apart from killing more than 200,000 people, the disaster left hundreds of thousands of others homeless. People from across the globe participated in helping to rebuild the province. (bbn)