PERELIYA, Sri Lanka — A packed train in Sri Lanka that was swept off the tracks by waves as big as elephants. A boat patrolling off Thailand’s shore hurled more than a mile inland. Streets in Indonesia turned into roaring rivers that carried people to their deaths.

Vivid and terrifying memories such as these were recalled Friday at ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that left nearly a quarter-million people dead in one of modern history’s worst natural disasters.

Continue reading below

The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami was triggered by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake — the region’s most powerful in 40 years — that tore open the seabed off Indonesia’s Sumatran coast, displacing billions of tons of water and sending waves roaring across the Indian Ocean at jetliner speeds as far away as East Africa.

Weeping survivors and others took part in beachside memorials and religious services across Asia, while some European countries also marked the anniversary, remembering the thousands of Christmastime tourists who died in the disaster.

Pain and hope alike were harvested from the tragedy.

‘‘There is no need for anyone to remind us — the sorrow will be there until I stop breathing,’’ said Kapila Migelratne, a 50-year-old businessman who lost his 14-year-old son and his brother when the train they were riding was derailed along Sri Lanka’s shoreline. More than 35,000 people in Sri Lanka died in the tsunami, including as many as 2,000 in what is regarded as the world’s worst train accident.

In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where more than 6,000 people died, Liguvariyal Daveed — a tsunami survivor who lost her son, mother, and two grandchildren in the disaster — said the fear from that day remains with her.

“Whenever we see the ocean, we get reminded of how this same ocean took away all these people,” she said at a memorial ceremony in the town of Kanyakumari.

“You can’t even imagine how much we fear the sea now,” Daveed said. “We didn’t even want to stay close to it, so we moved . . . away from the sea, in a small house allotted to me by the government.”

Those at a memorial service in southern Thailand included European tsunami survivors. About half of Thailand’s 8,212 dead were foreign tourists, mostly vacationing Europeans.

Czech model Petra Nemcova was vacationing in Khao Lak with her fiance, Simon Atlee, when the waves struck. He drowned, and she barely survived with serious injuries, including a broken pelvis.

“Ten years ago, everyone who is present here today got connected in a very profound way, and through our experience, which we have shared, our lives have been connected ever since,” Nemcova told the crowd at Friday’s ceremony.