Kumar de Silva
  • Asia marks 10 years since Indian Ocean tsunami

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    By JERRY HARMER 2 hours ago KHAO LAK, Thailand (AP) — Crying onlookers took part in beachside memorials and religious services 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, killing 230,000 people. 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, a moment that united the world in grief. “I cannot forget the smell of the air,

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  • Asia remembers devastating 2004 tsunami with prayers, memorial services

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    By Gayatri Suroyo BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – Survivors of Asia’s 2004 tsunami and relatives of its 226,000 victims gather along shorelines of the Indian Ocean on Friday for prayers and memorial services to mark the 10th anniversary of a disaster that still leaves an indelible mark on the region. When a 9.15-magnitude quake opened a faultline deep beneath the ocean a decade ago on Dec. 26, it triggered a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) which crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries, wiping some communities off the map in seconds. In some places, survivors have still not recovered their lives fully, complaining of shoddy and uneven reconstruction. In Indonesia’s Aceh province, where 168,000 people were killed, the tsunami helped end a long-running separatist conflict. On Thursday night, mass prayers were held at Aceh’s Grand Mosque, one of only a few buildings that withstood the wave.

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  • For Sri Lankan President, Renounced by Aides, Confidence of Re-election Dims

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    By ELLEN BARRYDEC. 25, 2014 COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — In the days after Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, was betrayed by a group of his longtime aides, comparisons were made to Judas Iscariot and the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but nothing expressed the depth of the president’s hurt and bewilderment like the fact that the desertion had occurred just after a shared meal of hoppers. As he watched his old allies begin to stage an unexpected campaign last month to block his re-election, Mr. Rajapaksa could not help but dwell bitterly on the hoppers, pancakes made of fermented rice flour that are one of Sri Lanka’s most beloved comfort foods. He praised his new health minister, who replaced the most prominent defector, by saying he was not “someone who eats hoppers in the night and then stabs you in the back in the morning.” Mr. Rajapaksa is

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  • Happy 60th Birthday to the Alliance Francaise in Sri Lanka : December 1954 – December 2014

    PHOTO 01 - Formal Inauguration of Alliance Francaise de Kotte at Keppetipola Mawatha

    The history of the Alliance Française network in Sri Lanka with branches in Colombo – today known as the Alliance Française de Kotte in Colombo -, Male, Jaffna, Kandy, Matara and Galle – dates back to the 30 January 1954 when a group of Sri Lankan francophiles decide to lay the foundation for an Alliance Française in Colombo which was consequently set up as a non-profit making institution with premises in Pettah. Over the decades the Alliance Française has developed into a fully-fledged network equipped with the state-of-the-art teaching material (e-books, internet, media library facilities, French TV) and a teaching staff especially trained in France to cater to the needs of the Sri Lankan students. The Alliance Française offers now internationally certified examinations like DELF, DALF (for those who eventually wish to pursue their higher studies in France). From 1954 until 1987, the Alliance Française grew and knew different places

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  • Sri Lanka gears up for tight election race

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    Nyshka Chandran | @NyshkaC 8 Hours AgoCNBC.com Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economy goes to the polls next month and Sri Lanka’s vote looks set to set to be a close race for the first time in nearly a decade. In November, President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced the country would go to the polls on January 8 – nearly two years ahead of schedule – in an attempt to seek a fresh mandate amid waning popularity. In a dramatic turn of events following the news, Rajapaksa’s health minister Maithripala Sirisena quit to become the president’s rival candidate, backed by the leading opposition party United National Party (UNP). Sirisena, who was also general secretary of the ruling party, is now running an opposition coalition calling for constitutional reforms to limit executive power and restore independent bodies to monitor civil service, judiciary and human rights. Read MoreIs Sri Lanka the new investment darling? “Amid

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  • Ten years on from the Indian Ocean tsunami — are we safer now?

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    By Matthias Schmale, Special to CNN December 24, 2014 — Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT) Editor’s note: As the Under Secretary General of National Society and Knowledge Development at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Matthias Schmale is responsible for overseeing the Secretariat’s work with its 189 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies worldwide. He has served in countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Kenya in field operations, program management and organizational development. (CNN) — Most of us can clearly recall where we were on December 26, 2004, when a massive earthquake off the northern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia triggered a deadly tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean, killing more than 226,000 people and causing massive destruction along coastal areas of 14 countries. The tsunami caused one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory, as its full horror unfolded on TV screens around the world. Ten

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  • 10 years after tsunami, victim’s mom learns body wasn’t lost

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    SEINT PAING, Myanmar (AP) — Of all the moments to chase a dream, May Aye Nwe chose the morning of Dec. 26, 2004. A child of rural Myanmar, she boarded a small boat seeking a better life in Thailand, just as the Indian Ocean tsunami raced in. Ten days later, her mother got a phone call that her 20-year-old daughter had died, and apparently vanished at sea in one of modern history’s worst natural disasters. It took her nearly 10 years to learn the truth. Her daughter’s body had in fact been recovered after the tsunami and was buried in an anonymous grave. It lies today beside more than 400 unclaimed bodies at the Tsunami Victims’ Cemetery in southern Thailand, a memorial to the disaster’s forgotten victims. The tombstones are marked with numbers, not names. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the cemetery,

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  • Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Russian Jets In Baltic May Hold Clue To How Flight 370 Vanished

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    Could there be a connection between the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and the surge in Russian military jets provoking NATO defenses in the Baltic region and elsewhere in the world this year? The mysterious and dangerous behavior of the Russian aircraft may provide a clue to how the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 was able to fly for seven hours, avoiding detection by anyone on the ground, according to one aviation expert. This year has seen a post-Cold War record number of Russian jets and other Russian military aircraft buzz and even breach NATO airspace in the Baltics as well as off the coastline of North America and even Japan. The surge has alarmed not only NATO due to the possible military threat from the Russian aircraft, but civilian authorities as well. The Russian jets most often fly without operating transponders — devices installed on all commercial and military

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