World

Thailand: 400 still not identified 12 years after tsunami

People in Thailand, Indonesia and India commemorate anniversary of the 2004 tsunami, which killed more than 226,000

BANGKOK: In Thailand, there was somber news as authorities said 400 victims of the tsunami that killed 226,000 people across the region remain unidentified 12 years on.

A 9.15 magnitude earthquake on Dec 26, 2004 triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean in one of the biggest natural disasters in history.

Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka were among the worst hit countries.

Some 5,395 people were killed in Thailand, among them about 2,000 foreign tourists.

"Since the 2004 tsunami, authorities have contacted between 4,000 and 5,000 relatives to come and receive bodies. There are about 400 bodies that we cannot identify," Mr Anand Boonkerkaew, deputy superintendent of Takua Pa district police in Phang Nga province, told Reuters.

Thailand's tourist high season is in full swing and it is business as usual in much of the area affected by the tsunami.

New hotels have replaced those flattened by the wall of water.

Thailand expects a record 32.4 million tourists this year.

400 bodies unidentified after 12 years
Across India, Thailand and Indonesia, people commemorated the 12th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami, one of the region's worst natural disasters which claimed more than 226,000 lives.PHOTO:  REUTERS

Critics have said Thailand's tsunami warning system remains inadequate, partly because it isn't maintained properly. The government, though, has said it is in good order.

In Indonesia, people prayed for their loved ones at mass graves and mosques yesterday.

Some 170,000 lives were lost in the country when the "megathrust" quake struck Aceh, a predominantly Muslim province on the northern tip of Sumatra island, bringing about massive waves that also hit coastal areas as far away as Somalia.

Across India, Thailand and Indonesia, people commemorated the 12th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami, one of the region’s worst natural disasters which claimed more than 226,000 lives.PHOTO: AFP

"I come here every year to pray for my children, daughter-in-law and their three children," Madam Maryam, who goes by one name, told AFP, at the Ulee Lheue mass grave, where 14,800 people were buried.

The bodies of her family were never found but 65-year-old Maryam, who survived by holding on to a tree trunk, was certain her family was buried in the mass grave as they lived in the vicinity at the time of the tsunami.

I come here every year to pray for my children, daughter-in-law and their three children.Madam Maryam, 65, a tsunami survivor

In India, hundreds of people living in Tamil Nadu's coastal districts paid homage to those who were swallowed by the tsunami, reported India Today.

Silent rallies were held as people offered milk and flowers to the sea for the over 8,000 people who lost their lives in the south Indian state.- WIRE SERVICES

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