The 15th anniversary of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami - that killed close to 230,000 people - was observed by communities across Asia on Thursday, December 26.
One of the world's most deadly disasters, the tsunami was triggered after a 9.1 magnitude quake off northern Sumatra island on the morning after Christmas Day in 2004. The waves went as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) that swept over vulnerable coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries.
Memorials were scheduled in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where entire villages were flattened and more than 125,000 people perished in the giant waves. Since then, the area has been largely rebuilt, with some 25,600 residential, commercial, government and school buildings constructed inside a high-risk zone, that had suffered virtually total devastation in 2004.
In Thailand, where more than 5,300 people were killed, including tourists visiting resort islands in the Andaman Sea, officials held a memorial ceremony and called for more awareness and preparedness for disasters.
"The government wants to lift safety standards... and build awareness across all sectors in preparing and protecting people against disasters," Deputy Interior Minister, Nipon Bunyamanee, said at an opening ceremony. He said Dec. 26 had been designated national accident prevention day.
Officials later laid wreaths at a memorial centre in Phang Nga province to pay tribute to King Maha Vajiralongkorn's nephew, Bhumi Jensen, who was last seen jet-skiing off the coast when the tsunami hit.
The Tsunami survivors
An interfaith service for Muslim, Christian and Buddhist victims was also held.
Survivors from Ban Nam Khem, the worst-hit Thai village, will hold a candlelight vigil in the evening. At least 1,400 people were killed when waves struck the fishing village.
(With inputs from Reuters)