Commemoration started with a quiet ceremony at the Tsunami Wall in Mai Khao, where about 100 people, mostly Thai, joined in a morning ceremony under clear skies, with Buddhist, Christian and Muslim prayers for the dead.
The participants then laid wreaths along the wall.
In the evening, at Loma Park in Patong, crowds of 200 or so, bulked out with local students, gathered in near-silence to hear prayers for the dead and missing in the island’s greatest disaster, before lighting candles and placing them in holes dug in the beach.
Others brought white roses which they laid around the tsunami memorial.
Among the participants were the Ecker family from Austria, who were staying at the Graceland Hotel in 2004. Thanks to warnings from Thais they fled the beach in time and suffered only scratches.
They said they times their two-week vacation this year to coincide with the anniversary.
Next to the stage, an exhibition of tsunami paintings by children drew an elderly Swedish couple, Lily and Luke. They turned away, tears rolling down Lily’s face.
Luke told The Phuket News, “We flew back to Sweden one day before the Tsunami but our friend stayed on and we lost her.”