Hope and disappointment four years on from Asian tsunami

LAM TUTUI, December 25, 2008 (AFP) – When the deadly waters of the Asian tsunami smashed into this fishing village in Indonesia’s Aceh province four years ago, not one house was left standing. Now there are too many of them. Recovery has been uneven in the dozen countries hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster, which killed more than 220,000 people.

While some communities have rebounded and flourished on a multibillion dollar outpouring of aid, others have languished.

In Lam Tutui, 54-year-old villager Keuchik Baharuddin recalled how he heard the monkeys in the trees screaming wildly before the tsunami hit, killing his wife and all five of his children.

“I saw our village had been levelled to the ground,” he said.

One of only 75 people from the village of 545 to survive, Baharuddin has rebuilt a semblance of his old life in a gleaming new village, marrying a tsunami widow who has just given birth to a baby son.

So many houses have been built with aid that survivors are now making money on the side by renting them to tenants while other houses sit empty, he said.

In Aceh, which along with nearby Nias island was the region worst hit by the disaster, with at least 168,000 killed, reconstru