Thousands of people are holding memorials on Friday to mark 10 years since an earthquake off the Indonesian coast spawned a devastating tsunami that claimed 220,00 lives and destroyed coastal areas in 14 nations.
Prayers, tears and solemn visits to mass graves marked the start of commemorations Friday across tsunami-hit nations for the 220,000 people who perished when giant waves decimated coastal areas of the Indian Ocean a decade ago.
On December 26, 2004 a 9.3-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia's western tip generated a series of massive waves that pummelled the coastline of 14 countries as far apart as Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Somalia.
Among the victims were thousands of foreign tourists enjoying Christmas in the region, carrying the tragedy of an unprecedented natural disaster into homes around the world.
A chorus of voices singing the Indonesian national anthem opened the official memorial at a 20-acre park in Indonesia's Banda Aceh -- the main city of the province closest to the epicentre of the massive quake and which bore the brunt of waves towering up to 35-metres (115 feet) high.
"Thousands of corpses were sprawled in this field," Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla told the crowd of several thousand -- many among them weeping.
"Tears that fell at that time... there were feelings of confusion, shock, sorrow, fear and suffering. We prayed.
"And then we rose and received help in an extraordinary way. Help came from Indonesia and everyone else, our spirits were revived," he said, hailing the outpouring of aid from local and foreign donors.
Mosques also held prayers across the province early Friday while people visited mass graves -- the resting place of many of Indonesia's 170,000 tsunami dead.