BANDA ACEH, December 26, 2009 (AFP) – People across Asia paused Saturday to remember the day five years ago when an undersea earthquake unleashed a devastating wave that killed more than 220,000 people. A solemn day of prayers and remembrance to mark one of the world’s worst natural disasters was held in Indonesia’s Aceh province, which lost almost 170,000 people in the Asian Tsunami of December 26, 2004.
Prayers were said in mosques throughout the staunchly Islamic province, and beside mass graves near the local capital of Banda Aceh.
At the site of one of the graves, where more than 14,000 unidentified victims are buried, an elderly woman sat on the ground weeping and reciting Koranic verses for the 40 members of her family who died.
“None of my family members survived in the tsunami. My children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, they all have gone and left me alone here,” Siti Aminah, 72, told AFP.
“This is the mass grave situated close to our residence blocks. They may be buried here or might have been swept away to sea as we were living by the beach,” she said.
Aminah, a spice seller, was on the second floor of a local market building some five kilometres (three miles) fro