Indonesia Pays Tribute To Tsunami Victims, Anniversary

Tsunami Struck Sumatra, Southeast Asia

Thousands of people held a memorial on Thursday in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the epicenter of the Indian Ocean tsunami, as the world prepared to mark a decade since a disaster that took 220,00 lives and laid waste to coastal areas in 14 countries.

tsunami memorial Indonesia

On December 26, 2004 a 9.3-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia’s western coast sparked a series of gigantic waves that wrought destruction across countries as far apart as Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Somalia. Among the victims were thousands of foreign visitors enjoying Christmas on the region’s sun-kissed beaches, striking tragedy into homes around the world.

In Indonesia’s province of Aceh, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla led tributes to the dead at the Siron mass grave. In Aceh’s capital, Banda Aceh, Mr. Kalla thanked local volunteers and the outside world for helping Aceh recover from the tragedy. He also presented awards to ambassadors from the donor nations.

Banda Aceh Sumatra Indonesia tsunami

Muslim clerics, tsunami survivors and rescue workers led around 7,000 mourners gathered at Banda Aceh’s black-domed Baiturrahman Grand Mosque for memorial prayers late Thursday.

Malaysian cleric Syeikh Ismail Kassim said he and several hundred compatriots attended to show support for Aceh.

“We hope Aceh people will not waver as a result of the calamity that has befallen them,” he told AFP.

Aceh governor Zaini Abdullah thanked Indonesians and the international community in his address at the mosque, one of the few buildings which withstood the wrath of the massive earthquake and ensuing waves which left 170,000 people in the country dead or missing.

Sulawesi sunset

“The tsunami had caused deep sorrow to Aceh residents from having lost their loved ones,” he said. “Sympathy from Indonesians and the international community has helped (Aceh) to recover,” he added. He also called on residents not to “dwell in our grief, so that we could rise from adversity and achieve a better Aceh”.

Kamaruddin, a fisherman who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said he attended the prayers to remember his wife and three children who died in the tsunami.

“I hope there will be no more disasters in Aceh,” the 50-year-old said.

In Meulaboh, a fishing town considered to be the ground zero of the tsunami – where massive waves flattened almost everything – Indonesian flags were flown at half-mast as small groups of residents held night prayers at mosques. The main memorials were planned for Friday morning, starting in Aceh which was hit first by the waves, then moving to Thailand where candlelit ceremonies are expected in the resort hubs of Phuket and Khao Lak.

Indonesia map

There will also be events in Sri Lanka, including at the site where a train carrying 1,500 people was washed away, as well as in several European capitals to remember foreign nationals who perished.

Many of the tsunami’s victims died in dark, churning waters laden with uprooted trees, boats, cars and eviscerated beach bungalows, as the waves surged miles inland and then retreated, sucking many more into the sea.

Thailand saw 5,395 people killed by the disaster – half of them foreign tourists.

British survivor Andy Chaggar was in a bungalow on Thailand’s Khao Lak when the tsunami waves struck, taking his girlfriend’s life and sweeping him inland.

“I came to in the water… there was glass, metal, there were pieces of wood, bricks, it was like being in a washing machine full of nails,” he told AFP on Thursday, on the same beach where he lost his girlfriend.

As the scale of the tragedy emerged, disaster-stricken nations struggled to mobilise a relief effort, leaving bloated bodies to pile up under the tropical sun or in makeshift morgues.

The world poured money and expertise into the relief and reconstruction, with more than US$13.5 billion (S$17.8 billion) collected in the months after the disaster. Almost US$7 billion in aid went into rebuilding more than 140,000 houses across Aceh, thousands of kilometres of roads, and new schools and hospitals.

The vast majority of Indonesia’s 170,000 victims perished in the province, among them tens of thousands of children. But the disaster also ended a decades-long separatist conflict, with a peace deal between rebels and Jakarta struck less than a year later. It also prompted the establishment of a pan-ocean tsunami warning system, made up of sea gauges and buoys, while individual countries have invested heavily in disaster preparedness.

But experts have cautioned against the perils of “disaster amnesia” creeping into communities vulnerable to tsunamis.

Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/as-world-honours-the-dead/1549754.html

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Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Indonesia Cave Reveals Historic Tsunamis

Tsunamis Nothing New To Indonesia

A cave discovered near the source of Indonesia’s massive earthquake-spawned tsunami contains the footprints of past gigantic waves dating up to 7,500 years ago, a rare natural record that suggests the next disaster could be centuries away — or perhaps only decades.

The findings provide the longest and most detailed timeline for tsunamis that have occurred off the far western tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province. That’s where 30-metre waves triggered by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, killed 230,000 people in several countries, more than half of them in Indonesia.

surf Sumatra

The limestone cave, located within a couple meters of the coast near Banda Aceh, is about one meter above knee-high tide and protected from storms and wind. Only huge waves that inundate the coastal area are able to gush inside.

Researchers in 2011 uncovered seabed sand deposits that were swept into the cave over thousands of years and neatly layered between bat droppings like a geological cake. Radiocarbon analysis of materials, including clamshells and the remains of microscopic organisms, provided evidence of 11 tsunamis before 2004.

The disasters were by no means evenly spaced, said lead researcher Charles Rubin from the Earth Observatory of Singapore. The last one occurred about 2,800 years ago, but there were four others in the preceding 500 years.

Indonesia tourism

And it’s possible there were others. Researchers know, for instance, that there were two mammoth earthquakes in the region around 1393 and 1450. Rubin said a big tsunami could have carried away evidence of other events through erosion. The scientists are still working to determine the size of the waves that entered the cave.

“The take-home message is perhaps that the 2004 event doesn’t mean it won’t happen for another 500 years,” said Rubin, who added that the cave was discovered by chance and not part of planned field work. “We did see them clustered together closer in time. I wouldn’t put out a warning that we’re going to have an earthquake, but it shows that the timing is really variable.”

Sulawesi sunset

The quake that triggered the 2004 tsunami surprised scientists because the fault that unleashed the megathrust temblor had been quiet for hundreds of years. And since the last big earthquake had struck more than 500 years earlier, there was no surviving oral history that could have helped people understand the risk.

Since 2004, much research has been done to try to learn about the area’s past by examining sand deposits, uplifted coral and GPS data.

“The findings are very significant,” Katrin Monecke, a geosciences professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts wrote in an email. She worked on tsunami sand deposits discovered in marshes in the area, but was not involved with the cave research, which was presented this month at an American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. “The sand sheets in the cave cover a very long time span and give an excellent idea about earthquake frequency.”

Despite the long record preserved in the cave, Rubin said it did not provide any clear clues about tsunami frequency or when events might happen in a relatively close period of time.

Indonesia beaches

Geologist Kerry Sieh, director of the Singapore group and also part of the cave investigation, has predicted that another monster quake could rock the area in the next few decades. They tend to come in cycles and the 2004 temblor heaped more pressure on the fault. However, the history is so variable, it’s impossible to make an exact forecast.

“By learning about the type of tsunamis that happened in the past, maybe we can do planning for mitigation for the next tsunami,” said Nazli Ismail, head of the physics and geophysics department at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh who worked on the project.

Indonesia is an archipelago located on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe of fault lines and volcanoes surrounding the Pacific Basin. It is home to some of the world’s biggest and deadliest seismic activity.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/indonesia-cave-reveals-tsunamis-dating-back-7-500-years-at-2004-site-1.1606582#ixzz2oaq3zzBr

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia