Indonesia marks fourth anniversary of deadly tsunami
Indonesia Friday marked the fourth anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami, with thousands of people scrambling up to higher ground on the coast of North Sulawesi as sirens blared in a drill, reported dpa.
In Aceh at the northern end of Sumatra, where more than 170,000 people were either killed or went missing when a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami on December 26, 2004, hundreds of survivors prayed at mosques across the staunchly Muslim province, the state-run Antara news agency reported.
Hundreds of others prayed at mass graves or gathered along the Aceh coast to honour victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed up to 230,000 lives in 11 countries and displaced more than 1.8 million people.
In the North Sulawesi province of Gorontalo, about 3,000-kilometres east of Aceh, more than 5,000 residents took part in the tsunami simulation drill.
Participants gathered in a field and then ran to a tsunami drill centre located on higher ground after the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency carried out a warning siren test, the state-run media reported.
As the people ran, ambulances and cars drove back and forth, bringing tsunami "victims" to "refugee camps." The drill took on a more realistic tone when some students, overcome by heat, actually fainted and needed medical attention.
Officials said North Sulawesi was chosen for the drill because the area was a prone to earthquakes capable of triggering a tsunami. A powerful 7.7-magnitude quake struck the area on November 17, killing at least four people and injuring dozens of others.
Indonesia last month launched a sophisticated tsunami warning system developed and funded by five donor countries, including Germany, Japan and the United States.
Officials say the system can provide a tsunami warning 5 minutes after an earthquake has been detected, allowing ample time for the public to move to safety.
More than 120,000 houses, scores of schools and hospitals and many kilometres of roads have been rebuilt across Aceh since the tsunami.
Indonesia is located along the Pacific volcanic belt known as the "Ring of Fire," where earthquakes and volcanoes are common.