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Three Days Later, Soldiers Find Town in Ruins

The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia) , December 30, 2004


They knew to run on Simeulue, a palm-fringed island closest to the epicentre of Sunday's devastating earthquake/tsunami.

"Our ancestors have a saying - if there is an earthquake run for your life," Darmili, the mayor of the island, said yesterday. "Thousands of our people were killed by a tsunami in 1907 and we have many earthquakes here."

Only five of 70,000 villagers on Simeulue were killed, all of them in the earthquake that struck at 7.55am last Sunday. Nobody perished in the five-metre-high walls of water that followed because they believed in that saying.

On Simeulue, about 30,000 of the 70,000 population were camping out in hills and mountains kilometres from the coast. "They fear another tsunami will come," said Darmili. "They will not come down for some time.

"Who could blame them?"

Subjects Covered: education

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