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Monks, tourists and villagers mark Asian tsunami

A Sri Lankan Buddhist monk lights a candle in memory of tsunami victims at a temple in Peraliya on Saturday. The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami struck a dozen countries, leaving about 230,000 dead.

Associated Press

A Sri Lankan Buddhist monk lights a candle in memory of tsunami victims at a temple in Peraliya on Saturday. The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami struck a dozen countries, leaving about 230,000 dead.

PHUKET, Thailand — Buddhist monks in orange robes chanted on a Thai beach, an Indonesian mother mourned her children at a mass grave, and a man scattered flowers in now-placid waters Saturday to commemorate the 230,000 killed five years ago when a tsunami ripped across Asia.

An outpouring of aid that followed the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami has helped replace homes, schools and entire coastal communities. But at Saturday's ceremonies, survivors spoke of the enduring wounds. Thousands in Indonesia's Aceh province, which was hardest hit, held prayer services at mosques and beside the mass graves where tens of thousands were buried. Some 167,000 people died in Indonesia alone.

The disaster's epicenter was off the coast of Aceh, on the island of Sumatra, where a 9.2-magnitude earthquake struck underwater. About 20 minutes later, a wall of water up to six stories high surged in from the sea, traveling at jetliner speed.

In Thailand on Saturday, hundreds of residents and foreigners returned to the white-sand beaches on Phuket. The commemorations culminated in the evening with the release of hundreds of light-filled lanterns into the sky.

A huge reconstruction effort has now rebuilt Aceh, providing more than 140,000 new homes, 2,227 miles of roads, 1,500 schools and 1,047 hospitals. Still the work is not finished: More than 2,000 people still live in shelters.

Monks, tourists and villagers mark Asian tsunami 12/26/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 26, 2009 10:45pm]

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