Ten years have passed since the tsunami in 2004 but the memory is still fresh in the memory of villagers here, especially the family members of 52 victims in Penang.

In the blink of an eye, 52 people were swallowed by big waves which followed the earthquake near Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Dec 26, 2004.

However, not many know that Health Deputy Minister and Balik Pulau Member of Parliament, Datuk Seri Hilmi Yahaya was one of the tsunami survivors.

Hilmi said on the day of the incident, he was visiting his constituency when told that strong waves had smashed Sungai Burung beach.

"I was taken by a friend on a motorcycle to Sungai Burung beach to see what happened. At noon, we visited the victims before a second wave arrived.

"We had to hold tightly to the telephone poles and was thankul for surviving the second wave," he said when opening a programme in memory of the tsunami, here Sunday.

tsunami 2004
This photo taken on Dec 26, 2004 in Penang shows row boats and debris littering the streets following a tsunami that hit the region after an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale hit Sumatra in Indonesia. - AFP Photo/Bernama

Hilmi said he agreed with Pulau Betong assemblyman, Farid Saad to build a monument in memory of the tsunami victims at Pasir Panjang beach.

The tsunami proved painful for Mohd Aiman Sazali, 14, who lost her mother, Irdawati Suhimi, 23, who was pregnant.

Aiman said they were having a picnic on Pasir Panjang beach when his mother saw huge waves heading in their direction and screamed to run for his life. "I ran and then looked back to see whether mum was safe but she was gone.

"Mum's screams are still fresh in my mind although 10 years have passed since that fateful day," said the SM Seri Balik Pulau student holding back tears.

Meanwhile, Ramlah Hassan, 67, said she was fishing with her brother and felt strange by the large amount of shrimp caught (one tonne more than normal days).

"At noon, our boat was hit by strong waves as tall as coconut trees coming from the direction of Pulau Kendi.

"The second wave sank our boat and two hours later, I found myself on a coconut tree."

He added his brother was found safe by rescue workers in a mangrove swamp near Pasir Panjang beach.