Thursday, December 18, 2014


    Jakarta, Dec 18, 2014 (Antara) - Although a decade has passed by, but Ricky Muzakir's near-death experience of almost being swallowed by the gigantic tsunami that struck Aceh on December 26, 2004, still remains fresh in his memory.
        "As I was at the bottom of the dirty water, I prayed to God. Please help me God, do not let me die this way. And suddenly, my body rose to the surface," Muzakir, a businessman from Aceh, recently told Antara while recounting his experience as one of the survivors of Aceh's deadly tsunami.
        He felt lucky to have survived and managed to help a child during the worst natural disaster to have occurred in modern times. However, Muzakir also felt a sense of deep regret as he had lost 40 of his relatives in just a single day due to the tsunami that had devastated most parts of Aceh Darussalam Province and Nias Island in North Sumatra Province.
   The government of Aceh and the people are currently making preparations for the 10th anniversary of the tsunami, which was triggered by a very powerful earthquake measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale that hit the waters of Aceh only a day after Christmas.
        The 10th Indian Ocean Tsunami Disaster Commemoration themed, "Let's Build Better Aceh with Heart" focusses on reflection, appreciation, and awakening, Muhammad Reza Pahlevi, the head of the Aceh provincial tourism and cultural office, remarked recently.
        "So, there will be no misery and no cry. We will showcase the revival of the Aceh community and express appreciation to the world community that has helped Aceh," he stated.
        Another purpose of holding the event is to remind the next generation about the heartbreaking incident. It is necessary that they understand and make some efforts to minimize the impacts of the disaster, Reza Pahalevi emphasized.
          The event will also help to draw national and international visitors and promote tourism in Aceh, he added.
        The commemoration event will begin with mass prayers being offered at Aceh's Baiturrahman Grand Mosque on December 25, and on the next day, the organizer will hold a visit to a mass grave of the tsunami victims.
        The agenda of the commemoration event will also include a Global Disaster Expo called "Reconstruction and Disaster Mitigation Risks," which will be held in Blang Padang, Aceh.
        The Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh will organize a creative arts exhibition and a photo expo, starting December 26, 2014.
        On December 26 and 27, the Aceh administration will hold an arts and cultural night showcasing the province's finest traditional dances as a mark of appreciation to the international community and nations that had helped Aceh following the disaster.
       "We have invited 53 countries to send their representatives to attend the commemoration event. Hopefully, some five thousand people will participate in it," Pahlevi stated.
       At least 35 foreign diplomats including ambassadors and some officials from several countries along with 34 international non-governmental organizations have confirmed their participation in the event.
         "So far, we have received confirmation from 35 ambassadors and 34 international agencies that they will attend the ten-year commemoration of Aceh tsunami," Pahlevi stated in Banda Aceh, on Dec. 16, 2014.
         "We also hope that the ten-year reflection can serve as a promotional gate to show that Aceh is now a safe place and is on the course of development. Thus, travelers can make Aceh their tourism destination," he added.
         The Aceh provincial government has expressed hope that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo would attend the commemoration.
        "We hope President Jokowi and several ministers will attend the function to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tsunami that hit Aceh," Pahlevi noted.
        The tsunami, which is the most devastating one in living memory, affected 18 countries in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa, killed more than 250 thousand people in a single day, and left more than 1.7 million people homeless.
         In Aceh and Nias alone, the tsunami caused wide-scale destruction, killing more than 200 thousand people and rendering some one million people homeless.
          Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Bangladesh, Somalia, and Tanzania were among the 17 countries affected by the tsunami.
   To commemorate the 10th year of the catastrophe, an international conference on tsunami was organized in Jakarta on Nov. 24, 2014.
        Twenty-four countries located around the Indian Ocean participated in the event, of which 21 countries receive early warning for the tsunami.
       Many international organizations such as the UNESCO, WMO, and the ASEAN sent their representatives to the conference that was organized by the Indonesian Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
          BMKG Chairman Andi Eka Sakya recently said that the conference's recommendations will serve as inputs for a UN conference on disaster mitigation to be held in Sendai, Japan, on March 14-18, 2015.
        "This conference will also be held to mark the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System," Skaya noted.
         Some five million people in Indonesia live in coastal areas that are susceptible to tsunamis.
        Indonesia has 4.5 thousand kilometers of coastline that is vulnerable to tsunamis, but only 38 sirens are available when, ideally, there should be a thousand sirens.
         Between 1629 and 2014, 174 major tsunamis have hit the country, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBN) recently.

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