Asia marks 1 month since tsunami
 Jan. 27, 2005

GALLE, Sri Lanka - Sri Lankans lighted candles and chanted prayers for the dead to mark one month since the tsunami Wednesday; mourners on a Thai island launched two new fishing boats in a first step toward rebuilding the devastated local fleet.
On the hardest-hit Indonesian island of Sumatra, there were no memorials, but children went back to school and the empty desks of dead classmates.
A month after killer waves swept away more than 140,000 lives and ravaged coastlines around the Indian Ocean, survivors quietly remembered the tragedy and carried on with the struggle to rebuild their lives. But behind the public grieving was a deepening sense of frustration at the slow pace of recovery efforts.
"We have not received any assistance yet," read a banner strung between tents housing survivors in Sri Lanka's southern city of Galle.
Candles and multicolored Buddhist flags lined a highway hugging the coast of Sri Lanka, where nearly 31,000 people died and a million were displaced by the Dec. 26 tsunami.
At the Ariyakara Viharaya temple near Galle, more than 2,000 oil lamps flickered in memory of the dead. Monks chanted on loudspeakers. Devotees brought fresh flowers.
"In memory of that day, for the missing and dead in all the countries, we are praying that a tsunami will never return," said L. Chandaransi, the head monk.
In Indonesia, where at least 96,000 died, there were no government or religious events to mark the day. Instead, officials said a proper remembrance was to send children back to school for the first official day of class since the tragedy.
Students in ravaged Aceh province returned to find their schools filled with mud and debris, with books, computers and materials strewn everywhere. Many of their friends and teachers were gone forever.
Alqausar, a 6-year-old boy with neatly parted hair and a Power Rangers bag, arrived at school with his mother and wondered about his best friend, Andi. After about two hours of glancing repeatedly at the school gate, it hit him.
"I don't think he's coming," he whispered.
Only six of his class of 43 showed up. Out of the 600 enrolled at SD Kartika primary school, just 260 returned. The rest are presumed dead.
At another school, English teacher Roslina Ramli - who lost four children to the tsunami - was one of 25 teachers who came to school. Before the tsunami, the faculty was 75 strong.
"I have to put on a brave face," said Roslina. "Teachers are supposed to give the students strength and guidance, but it will be hard."
In one classroom, workers found a body Wednesday while shoveling out thick mud.
The government estimates that 700 to 1,100 schools in the province were destroyed and 1,750 primary-school teachers were dead or missing. Nearly 180,000 students have no schools to go to, Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab said.