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Phuket remembers with candlelit vigil

Phuket remembers with candlelit vigil
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Thousands of people have gathered on the Thai holiday island of Phuket for a candlelit vigil to remember the region’s victims of the tsunami. The ceremony, held in a sports stadium, began at dusk. Buddhist monks led the tributes to the 5,000 local people confirmed as dead along with the thousands who are missing. As the light faded the field was soon transformed into a sea of candles and special paper lanterns were lit and left to float into the night sky.

Meulaboh on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island also bore the brunt of the disaster. Roads there have been submerged or washed away, bridges have been damaged and power lines are down. Everything is covered in stinking mud. Ten days after the giant waves hit, nobody really knows how many have been killed. But relief agencies are estimating that about 40,000 people died in Meulaboh alone. With around 50,000 child fatalities overall, they make up a third of the dead. Tens of thousands more have been orphaned. They are now part of an estimated 1.5 million people who are either homeless or in need of medical care across Thailand. The World Health Organisation says it is a race against time. Despite the unprecedented pledges of aid relief, there are growing fears that diseases such as cholera and malaria will break out among the displaced survivors.