Students at State Junior High School 1 in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, gathered on March 11 to observe a moment of silence. The city, at the northern tip of Sumatra, sustained devastating casualties in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.
The children sang two songs in Japanese and formed a pattern representing the kanji for “kizuna,” a word meaning human bonds or connections. Kizuna is often cited during recovery work in Japan.
Siti Nurzahara, 14, was among those present who experienced the disaster nine years ago. She expressed concern for her counterparts in Japan.
“Because I suffered trauma during the tsunami, I panic whenever an earthquake strikes now,” she said. “If Japanese survivors are in a similar situation, I sympathize with them.”
More than 220,000 people are believed to have died in nations around the Indian Ocean when a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered an ocean-wide tsunami. Indonesia’s northwestern coast and port cities such as Banda Aceh sustained particularly heavy damage because of their proximity to the epicenter.