Tamils across the homeland held commemorative events today to remember the 35,000 victims of the devastating tsunami on December 26, 2004.
Remembering the waves
Five days after the catastrophic tsunami, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that almost two thirds of those who were killed across the island were in the Tamil homeland of the North-East.
"The North East is the worst affected region by the tsunami," the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) said in a joint report.
A doctor based in Amparai described the moments the waves struck. "We went from the hospital to retrieve some bodies killed by the first wave near the Pandiruppu beach," he said from the Kalmunai base hospital just hours after the disaster. "We saw at a distance another massive wave, more than hundred feet high speeding towards Kalmunaikkudi. It was like a diagonal wall rising out of the sea. The sight was terrible. We ran for our lives. I do not believe that anything could have survived the force of that wave."
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) declared the situation as a National Emergency and issued an urgent appeal for international assistance. The LTTE provided immediate aid to victims of the tsunami which was followed by extensive post-tsunami relief efforts by the Tamil diaspora through organisations such as the Tamil Rehabiliation Organisation (TRO).
LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran issued a statement after the disaster:
"The devastation caused by this tidal surge has exacerbated the sufferings of our people already affected by a war that continued for over twenty years and has torn asunder our nation. I convey my feeling of attachment, consolation and deeprest condolences to our people who have lost their beloved and dearest and undergoing unbearable sorrow and pain.
My condolence also go to our Muslim and Sinhala brethen in the southern coastal areas, who have lost their kith and kin, and in deep sorrow. I also take this opportunity to express my condolences and share the grief of all the people in the South Asian nations, India and Tamil Nadu in particular, on whom had befallen this disaster."
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Relatives of the tsunami victims paid their respects to their loved ones this morning at the tsunami memorial in Mullaitivu.
A commemorative event was also held at Mullaitivu's Divisional Secretariat offices to remember the lives that were lost.
A commemorative event was organised by the Mannar District Disaster Management Division at the Mannar District Secretariat.
The event was attended by interfaith leaders, government officers and representatives of fishing organisations.
A prayer service was held at a tsunami memorial which was recently renovated and reopened today.
Another memorial for the victims of the tsunami was held at Vavuniya Kandasamy Temple today.