Memorial held in Aceh for 2004 tsunami victims

People in Indonesia's Aceh province held a memorial service on Saturday to remember the more than 160,000 victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami 16 years ago. The ceremony was live-streamed online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A major earthquake off the island of Sumatra on December 26, 2004, sent tsunami waves over a wide area ranging from Southeast Asia to eastern Africa. More than 220,000 people in total were killed or went missing.

About 130 people attended the ceremony that began at 8 a.m., local time, around the time the quake hit. The service was on a much smaller scale than usual due to the pandemic.

Participants offered prayers and sang songs for the victims.

A civic group from the Japanese prefecture of Miyagi, hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, sent a video message, calling on people in Aceh to continue efforts to hand down their experiences to future generations.

Since the 2004 disaster in Aceh, reconstruction work has progressed with houses and shops rebuilt even in hard-hit areas. At the same time, people appear to have become less cautious about tsunami, which poses a challenge for anti-disaster efforts.

A 50-year-old man who lost his wife and two children in the tsunami said he feels like he has lost everything. He said people should continue basic drills to prepare against possible disasters.