Thailand: Two Years After the Tsunami

ByABC News via via logo

Dec. 26, 2006 — -- In Thailand and throughout south Asia Monday, memorial services were held to remember the 230,000 people killed across the region two years ago by a deadly tsunami.

Triggered by an earthquake of magnitude 9 that occurred off Indonesia's Sumatra island on Dec. 26, 2004, the tsunami rolled across the Indian Ocean, devastating coastal communities in a dozen countries and leaving millions homeless.

"The destruction was beyond anything that anybody that … works in the aid business had ever seen," said Bob Laprade of the American Red Cross.

Two years ago, ABC News reported from some of the worst-hit countries.

"They told me up there that they're finding bodies all the time where they least expect them," Diane Sawyer reported from Thailand.

"I heard many of them were in the market when it happened," Bob Woodruff said from Sri Lanka.

"Here near the beach, where the damage was worst, they haven't even begun the cleanup," Nick Watt reported from Indonesia.

But two years later, more than 60 percent of those who lost their homes still live in temporary housing and only half of the $13 billion pledged in aid has been spent.

"Recovery takes a long time," Laprade said. "It doesn't happen in one year. It doesn't happen in a couple of years. It happens over a very long period."

In the Aceh region of Indonesia alone, tens of thousands of people still live in temporary shelter. The Red Cross has a five-year recovery plan.

"We're not there and I think we are, wanna be, more efficient and get there faster, but we are making progress," Laprade said.

Two years ago, Marada was just 11 years old and orphaned by the wave. Now 13, she attends a boarding school and is surrounded by friends. The school is run by a charity that helps tsunami orphans.

"I am happy," she told ABC News. "I don't think so much about my parents now."

But Marada's older sister, Matia, is now left at their new home all alone.

"Life is impossible now," she said.

For some, nothing will ever erase the memory of the wave.

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