World

Beachside memorials and prayers across Asia mark 10th anniversary of Indian Ocean tsunami

  • Relatives of victims of the Asian tsunami, comfort each other during a commemoration and religious ceremony for German, Austrian and Swiss victims, in Khao Lak, Thailand, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. December 26 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history: a tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, that left more than 230,000 people dead in 14 countries and caused about $10 billion in damage. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Relatives of victims of the Asian tsunami, comfort each other during a commemoration and religious ceremony for German, Austrian and Swiss victims, in Khao Lak, Thailand, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. December 26 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history: a tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, that left more than 230,000 people dead in 14 countries and caused about $10 billion in damage. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)  (The Associated Press)

  • A white rose released by relatives of German victims of the Asian tsunami sits on the sand as a couple looks towards the sea during a commemoration and religious ceremony for German, Austrian and Swiss victims, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014 in Khao Lak, Thailand. December 26 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history: a tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, that left more than 230,000 people dead in 14 countries and caused about $10 billion in damage. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    A white rose released by relatives of German victims of the Asian tsunami sits on the sand as a couple looks towards the sea during a commemoration and religious ceremony for German, Austrian and Swiss victims, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014 in Khao Lak, Thailand. December 26 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history: a tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, that left more than 230,000 people dead in 14 countries and caused about $10 billion in damage. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)  (The Associated Press)

  • A relative of the Asian tsunami holds back her tears as she lays a white rose on the beach during a commemoration and religious ceremony for German, Austrian and Swiss victims of the Asian tsunami, in Khao Lak, Thailand, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. December 26 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history: a tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, that left more than 230,000 people dead in 14 countries and caused about $10 billion in damage. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    A relative of the Asian tsunami holds back her tears as she lays a white rose on the beach during a commemoration and religious ceremony for German, Austrian and Swiss victims of the Asian tsunami, in Khao Lak, Thailand, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. December 26 marks the 10th anniversary of one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history: a tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, that left more than 230,000 people dead in 14 countries and caused about $10 billion in damage. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)  (The Associated Press)

Beachside memorials and religious services were held across Asia on Friday to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that left more than a quarter million people dead in one of modern history's worst natural disasters.

The devastating Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami struck a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean rim. It eradicated entire coastal communities, decimated families and crashed over tourist-filled beaches the morning after Christmas. Survivors waded through a horror show of corpse-filled waters

As part of Friday's solemn commemorations, survivors, government officials, diplomats and families of victims gathered in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and elsewhere.

Moments of silence were planned in several spots to mark the exact time the tsunami struck.

The disaster was triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake, the region's most powerful in 40 years, that tore open the seabed bed off of Indonesia's Sumatran coast, displacing billions of tons of water and sending waves roaring across the Indian Ocean at jetliner speeds as far away as East Africa.

Indonesia's Aceh province was hit first and hardest. The sea rose as high as 10 meters (33 feet) and surged inland for kilometers (miles) with seemingly unstoppable force, carrying along trees, houses, train cars — and thousands of people — in a churning rush.

Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla attended a ceremony in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, on Friday in which sashes were distributed to the ambassadors of countries that assisted in the massive recovery effort 10 years ago.

More than 160,000 people died in Indonesia, more than half of the total 230,000 people killed across the region.

In Thailand, more than 5,000 people were killed, about half of whom were tourists celebrating the day after Christmas on the country's renowned white-sand beaches.

In Sri Lanka, the water swept a passenger train from its tracks, killing nearly 2,000 people in a single blow. A symbolic recreation of the train journey was planned as part of Friday's ceremonies.