Dec 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka today observed the National Safety Day held alongside the commemorations of the 8th anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami tragedy which claimed the lives of over 35,000 people and rendered over 100,000 homeless.
National Safety Day events, held at the auditorium of the Uva provincial education office library in Badulla this morning with the participation of Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa as the Chief Guest, started with a two-minute silence from 9:25 to 9:27 a.m.
Addressing the occasion Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said Sri Lanka is now able to effectively face any natural disaster.
A mechanism has been set up to record the effect of a tsunami within five minutes of its occurrence and the Ministry has established systematic procedures to evacuate the people to safety from danger areas within one hour.
Speaking of the current adverse weather situation in the country, the Minister said around 350,000 people were affected by the recent floods and heavy rain and the government has taken all the necessary measure to provide relief to the affected.
Minister Amaraweera noted that the number of deaths due to earth slips in mountainous areas would have gone further up had the people were not informed beforehand.
The National Safety Day was declared in 2006 to commemorate those who died in the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, 2004 and to raise awareness in the public on natural disasters and to educate the public on the measures to take when disaster strikes.
Meanwhile, amid religious blessings the train that was destroyed on the southern coastal railway line by the tsunami travelled this morning to Peraliya station in Hikkaduwa, the nearest station to the place where the tragedy occurred to commemorate the fateful journey in December 2004.
Tsunami waves struck the Queen of the Sea train plying from Colombo to Matara and strewed the rail cars full of passengers killing over 1,700 people.
The train has been restored and returned to regular service now.