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“In collaboration with Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and others departments, this year’s tsunami-memorial event will be held on Saturday, December 26, at Loma Park in Patong to pay homage to the victims of the 2004 tsunami,” said Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada.
“At the event, we will have exhibitions with educational information about natural disasters, especially tsunamis and earthquakes, on display as well as live entertainment and music.
“The night’s event (at Loma Park) will start at 4pm and continue to midnight. Many religious ceremonies will be held throughout the area after 6pm also,” he added.
Specifically, a Buddhist ceremony will be held at Provincial Hall, a Christian ceremony will be held at Patong Beach and a Buddhist ceremony organised by the Phuket Japanese Association will be held at Kamala Beach, Gov Chamroen explained.
“Also, a Muslim ceremony will be held at Bang Tao Beach and special activities will be held at the Tsunami Memorial Wall in Mai Khao,” he added.
Yet Patong, the place in Phuket worst hit by the waves in 2004, will again be home to the traditional “Light Up Phuket” candle-lighting ceremony on Patong Beach, during which thousands of people turn out to dig holes in the sand and place lit candles within to remember victims of the tsunami.
Gov Chamroen noted that December 26 was a day not only to remember those lost to the waves, which claimed more than 5,000 lives along Thailand’s Andaman coast, but also a time to acknowledge that natural disasters are a part of life and for people to learn how to respond to such emergencies.
“The Cabinet on June 14, 2005 declared December 26 as National Disaster Prevention Day,” he said.
“We should take this day each year as an opportunity to re-evaluate our disaster preparedness and learn to adopt a more developed mindset toward safety,” Gov Chamroen urged.
“Everyone must know at least the basics of how to save oneself from such disasters and how to help others to evacuate to safety,” he added.
The 2004 Asian Tsunami claimed an estimated 230,000 to 280,000 lives – in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and even Somalia – with millions more directly and indirectly affected by the waves.
In Thailand, official government estimates mark 5,393 confirmed dead, another 8,457 injured and 3,062 missing, presumed dead, all lost to the tsunami.