"It still haunts me." The line from 28-year-old Thai resident Suwanne Maliwan to Reuters expresses a common sentiment Thursday, the 15th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed 230,000 lives. Maliwan, for instance, lost both her parents and five other relatives. "Sometimes I dream that a wave is coming," she says. Vigils and memorials across Asia were commemorating the staggering loss of life in what was one of the world's deadliest natural disasters. A 9.1 magnitude earthquake off Sumatra island the morning after Christmas in 2004 triggered the tsunami and unleashed waves as high as 57 feet.
Coastal areas of Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and other countries were deluged. One of the first areas hit was Indonesia's Aceh province, notes CBS News. In fact, most of those killed were in Indonesia alone, where 170,000 deaths were registered. "No words can describe our feelings when we tearfully saw thousands of corpses lying on this ground 15 years ago," said acting Aceh Gov. Nova Iriansyah at a ceremony in Sigli. "And now, we can see how people in Aceh were able to overcome suffering and rise again, thanks to assistance from all Indonesians and from people all over the world." (Read more tsunami stories.)