MEULABOH — Residents of Padang Seurahet Village, in the coast of Aceh Province, gathered around a local mosque on Tuesday to commemorate the 13th anniversary of tsunami in Aceh.
After the devastating tsunami hit Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh, every year on Dec 26, 2004, residents of Padang Seurahet Village of Johan Pahlawan Subdistrict, West Aceh District, hold a prayer ritual called “kenduri” at a Baitul Atiq Mosque, which survived the tsunami waves.
“There is a lot of historic value that we feel so close to this mosque,” local resident T Irhami stated here on Tuesday. On Dec 26 2004, the tsunami waves completely destroyed Padang Seurahet Village, wiping out villagers’ houses and killing at least 376 local residents.
Irhami recalled that a 9.2-magnitude earthquake jolted the region that morning. Fifteen minutes after the earthquake, the tsunami waves that came from the sea engulfed anything that stood on its path. However, the Baitul Atiq Mosque, located at the village’s beach, survived the tsunami and remained intact.
“We saw sea water recede one kilometer away from the beach. We were frightened and started to run,” Irhami recalled. Only one villager was seen climbing on top of the mosque’s roof when the tsunami came. He still lives as a witness and a tsunami survivor.
The Baitul Atiq Mosque has not been rebuilt after the tsunami, being preserved as the witness of the 2004 disaster. A monument of “Kulah Air dan Jam Dinding” was built at the mosque’s premises. The names of 367 victims along with 08.30 WIB, indicating the time when the tsunami occurred, were engraved on the monument.
Padang Seurahet was home to local fishermen. Villagers here have been relocated to Blang Beurandang. “This village was our homeland, and we cannot forget,” Irhami revealed. During the commemoration of the 2004 tsunami, shops were closed, local residents were not allowed to sail, and flags were flown at half-mast from Dec 25 to 27.