Student from Sri Lanka tells of his family and friends after tsunami disaster

Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - 3:13pm

Kimberlee Ritchie

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The tsunami that happened the day after Christmas was a worldwide catastrophe that caused emotional aftershocks around the world, including Price, Utah. The College of Eastern Utah has a student from the second hardest hit country, Sri Lanka.

Dayna Namda Laxshmam Siriwardhana, known around campus as Lucky, is a native to Sri Lanka, the country that lost 30, 977 people from the monstrous wave. Bodies are still being found. As of February 14, 20 more bodies were found on the southern coast of Sri Lanka in a site close to where the tsunami killed approximately 1,000 passengers on a southbound train to Mantara from Columbo. Those additional 20 bodies constitute a small number of recent death finds. In Indonesia, 580 bodies were found in Banda Aceh, the capital city, and 570 bodies in Aceh Besar district. The current total death toll of the tsumani is said to be at 287,534.

Lucky said he is fortunate, for his family lost a business, but not their lives. There are over 35,000 children in Indonesia alone that have lost parents. Lucky said, "We didn't lose anything compared with them."

That is not to say that he has not lost anyone due to the disaster. "I have three friends who have died," he said. "We weren't very close, but I knew them. I had a few close friends that I don't know what happened to them. You can pray for them, that's all you can do."

In Sri Lanka, there are still 5,637 people missing, but some of those are thought to be included in those who were never formally identified and then buried, who are now on the death toll.

Sri Lanka alone will need approximately $1.5 billion U.S. dollars in order to start recovering from the damages. Many of the losses were concentrated in housing, tourism, fisheries and transport. So far, they have $500 million U.S. dollars.

Around 443,000 people in Sri Lanka have been displaced by the disaster. Of those killed, 27,000 belonged to fishing families. Well over half of the country's fishing fleet-29,700 boats-has been completely destroyed or damaged.

In a speech given at the February 9 Tsunami Relief Event, Lucky said "I would like to thank all for coming to help. Thanks to everyone CEU who had money, time and resources to help, and thank this great nation for helping these people."

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