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Asian tsunami survivors return to disaster scene on 10th anniversary

Asian tsunami survivors return to disaster scene on 10th anniversary
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Survivors of the 2004 Asian tsunami have been returning to the scene of the disaster, ten years after the deadly wave which swept inland from the Indian Ocean.

You can't even imagine how much we fear the sea now

At several locations in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu families gathered to pray for their dead relatives.

One such ceremony took place in the holy town of Vailankanni. The Indian government says that 300 people died there in the tsunami but residents believe the number was closer to 2,000 as hundreds of pilgrims had come to pay their respects over the Christmas holidays.

Liguvariyal Daveed, from the town of Kanyakumari on India’s southernmost tip, survived the tsunami but lost her mother, son and two grandchildren.

She says the ocean still provokes fear.

“Whenever we see it, we get reminded of how this same ocean took away all these people. You can’t even imagine how much we fear the sea now. We didn’t even want to stay close to it, so we moved over to the west, away from the sea, in a small house the government allocated to me,” she said.

On a beach at Khao Lak in southern Thailand, survivors and bereaved relatives from some European countries – Austria, Germany and Switzerland – held a memorial service.

Some people waded into the water and threw flowers into the sea.

The German casualties were among the worst: around 550 of their nationals died. Only Sweden suffered a greater loss among European nations.

Claudia Geist from Xanten near Dusseldorf was badly injured and almost lost her leg.

“I hadn’t expected to be so moved by the anniversary, because I’ve visited this place several times since. But I feel a completely different experience now connecting with all the other people,” she said.

The deadly wave is estimated to have killed some 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean region.

The disaster resulted in an international early warning system being put in place.

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