PERELIYA, Sri Lanka - A packed train in Sri Lanka that was swept off the tracks by waves as big as elephants. A boat patrolling off Thailand's shore hurled more than a mile inland. Streets in Indonesia turned into roaring rivers that carried people to their deaths.
Vivid and terrifying memories such as these were recalled Friday at ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that left nearly a quarter-million people dead in one of modern history's worst natural disasters.
The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami was triggered by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake - the region's most powerful in 40 years - that tore open the seabed off Indonesia's Sumatran coast, displacing billions of tons of water and sending waves roaring across the Indian Ocean at jetliner speeds as far away as East Africa.
Weeping survivors and others took part in beachside memorials and religious services across Asia, while some European countries also marked the anniversary, remembering the thousands of tourists who died.
Pain and hope alike were harvested from the tragedy.
"There is no need for anyone to remind us - the sorrow will be there until I stop breathing," said Kapila Migelratne, 50, who lost his 14-year-old son and his brother when the train they were riding was derailed along Sri Lanka's shoreline. More than 35,000 people in Sri Lanka died, including as many as 2,000 in what is regarded as the world's worst train accident.
In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where more than 6,000 people died, Liguvariyal Daveed - a tsunami survivor who lost her son, mother, and two grandchildren - said the fear remains with her. "Whenever we see the ocean, we get reminded of how this same ocean took away all these people," she said at a memorial ceremony in Kanyakumari.
In Europe, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven spoke at a ceremony at Uppsala Cathedral, north of Stockholm, to remember the 543 Swedes who died. President Joachim Gauck of Germany, which lost more than 500 people, said: "Locals and tourists found themselves in a situation in which they had a shared destiny, a bond which can still be felt today."
Those at a memorial service in Thailand included European tsunami survivors, who were serenaded by a small orchestra and took part in a minute of silence and a candlelight ceremony. About half of Thailand's 8,212 dead were foreign tourists.
The ceremony was held in the resort area of Khao Lak, next to a police boat that was out at sea when the tsunami struck and was carried inland by the waves. The boat has become a permanent memorial to the power of the tsunami.
Many at the memorial ceremonies celebrated how people pulled together in the wake of the tragedy, saving strangers and launching a process to rebuild. Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova was vacationing with her fiance, Simon Atlee, when the waves struck. He drowned and she barely survived. After recovering, she founded the Happy Hearts Fund to rebuild schools devastated by disasters.
"Ten years ago, everyone who is present here today got connected in a very profound way, and through our experience, which we have shared, our lives have been connected ever since," Nemcova told the crowd. "The 2004 tsunami didn't connect just those of us here, but the whole world, as individuals, families and countries have been asking, 'How can we help?' "
In Sri Lanka, survivors and other mourners took a journey to honor those lost in the train accident.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha noted that the tragedy "allowed us to see the kindness and help that came from around the world."
More than 170,000 people died in Indonesia. Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kallaand other officials placed flowers at a mass grave where thousands of unknown victims were buried.