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Memorials for Tsunami Victims

Swedes took part in ceremonies from Thailand to Stockholm Monday, in memory of the victims of last year’s Asian tsunami disaster.

Tens of thousands of Swedes were vacationing in the area when the December 26 earthquake and tidal wave struck. Among the more than 220,000 who died were 543 Swedes, declared dead or still missing.

Around 440 Swedes took part in a beachside ceremony Monday in the Thai resort of Khao Lak, that included flowers, incense and music.

Ceremonies were also held here in Sweden. In memorials in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg a minute of silence was observed and 543 candles were lit. Around 300 people took part in the ceremony at Stockholm’s Skansen open air museum, including King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, and Prime Minister Göran Persson.

Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds, who has been strongly criticized for a slow response to the tragedy, both personally and by her ministry, announced Saturday she would not be attending the Skansen memorial because, she said, her presence would “spark reactions” from the survivors and the families of those who died.

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