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10 years since devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami

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A memorial has been held in the Indonesian town of Banda Aceh for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami – the first in a series of events marking a decade since the disaster.

Memorial ceremonies are also due to be held in Thailand and Sri Lanka.

More than 200,000 people were killed when an underwater earthquake set off massive waves across the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004.

The Indonesian province of Aceh – close to the quake epicentre – was worst hit.

In the province’s capital, Banda Aceh, thousands of people gathered at the Great Mosque – a 19th Century building that was one of the few structures in the town to survive the tsunami.

The mosque’s imam, Asman Ismail, said the tsunami had taught a “valuable lesson” to Aceh, which had been the scene of an armed conflict for nearly 30 years.

“After the tsunami, no-one fights against each other, people live in harmony and peace till this day,” he said.

Efforts to end the conflict resumed after the tsunami, culminating in a peace deal between the government and the rebels in August 2005.

Main commemoration ceremonies are due to take place across the region later on Friday.

Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla is expected to thank local volunteers and the outside world for helping Aceh recover from the tragedy. BBC

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