It is exactly six months since the Indian Ocean tsunami, one of history’s worst natural disasters that claimed up to 232,000 lives. It was an unprecedented tragedy that triggered an unprecedented international response. Aid pledges were immense. Yet survivors in the countries worst affected – Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand – say the reconstruction of homes and schools has barely begun. The UN believes it will take as long as a decade to rebuild what was destroyed. Memories of that fateful Sunday morning on December 26 2004 are still vivid. Tourists are gradually returning to Thailand where foreigners were among those who died.
Some relatives are still waiting for news. German Markus Mueller lost his daughter but says he has heard reports from people who say they have seen her alive. “No one is willing to help, really,” he said “The Thai officials seem stubborn. I no longer hear anything from German officials.” The French-speaking community in Phuket marked the six-month anniversary with a solemn wreath-laying ceremony. France is mourning 95 victims, some still unidentified. A total of 125 people from the United Kingdom perished. Some 20 others are missing feared dead.