Earthquake and Tidal Waves Disaster — news as it breaks

Norwegian couple thought they had lost their 24 year old son to the wave off Patong beach on Phuket. But eventually they found him – with broken toes and an injured knee – but alive.
     “First the water withdrew from the beach untill even the corals were above water. We took our cameras and ran out to take pictures. Suddenly we realized that the wave was coming and started running back,” Tom Westgaard told the Norwegian daily VG.
#Tom Westgaard gathered last night on the ‘2 Vikings’ restaurant some 400 meters from the beach. The restaurant has become an informal meeting place for many Norwegians visiting Phuket.
     “Our son and his friend had scaled a wall and from there seen teenager and one baby being dragged out to sea.”
     “I am shaking. It has been a tough day,” the shocked Norwegian added.

Europaeiske Rejseforsikring has directed a six person emergency team to Phuket.
     “The travel insurance agency is the largest in Scandinavia and has no clear overview of how many tourists insured by the agency was in the region. But the agency had decided in the first place to send the emrgency team off.

Norwegian priest Hilde Sirnes is on her way to Phuket from Bangkok where she Monday will be joined by her colleague from Singapore, Stein Vangen.

Norwegian foreign minstry confirmed around six o’clock Sunday night that at east ine Norwegian had died in nthe disaster on Phuket.
     “It has been confirmed by the family of the victim,” spokeswoman Anne Lene Dale Sandsten of the ministry says according to the Norwegian daily VG.
     “We expect our own staff to arrive the island around nive o’clock.”
     Aroiund 3.000 Norwegian tourists were in the area.

The Danish foreign ministry reported at 19.45 Danish time that two Danes were reportedly killed in the disaster on Phuket. Five were still unaccounted for and one was hospitalised. The ministry warns that the number of Danish victims of the disaster may rise.
     The Danish ambassador to Thailand Ulrik Helweg Larsen and Danish consul Ulrik Holt Sorensen have now both arrived Phuket.

45 year old Borje Carlsson working at one of the hotels on the Patong Beach rushed into the lobby as the wave came.
     “As I stood there clinging to a pillar and holding on to a friend who cannot swim, a car was swept into the lobby and swirled around.”
      Carlsson recalls that he heard people screaming outside and went out.
     “Suddenly I saw a wave. It was taller than the palm trees and coming towards me.”

Three Swedes on vacation on Phuket were reported victims by the Swedish daily Aftonbladet. Several were injured and hospitalised. The reportedly dead were two women and one man.
     A Swedish woman told Swedish national news agency TT that she saw several be dragged out to sea and disappear.
     The Swedish Ambassador to Thailand Jonas Hafstrom arrived Phuket yesterday. An emergency number has been opened in Stockholm +46 8 405 10 00

Swedish eye witnesses to the disaster on Phuket report to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet how they saw the water first withdrawing from the beach like a quick low tide. Two to three minutes later the wave hit.
     “I have never seen anything like it,” says a shocked Christer Bjork, 60 years, from Stockholm.
     “Cars, furniture, motorcycles were swept far up into the town.”
     Oscar Ersson, 27 from Skellefteå reported from Karon Beach how dead bodies were floating in the water off the beach.
     “People help each other to drag them upp. There is not enough police and other rescue personell. People who seem to know about heart massage and resurrection methods try to do their best in the middle of the street.”
     “I am 450 meter from the beach as we speak and it seems the water is rising again,” he said while on his mobile phone.

There are Swedish casualties, but we believe they are less than ten, Swedish ministry for foreign affairs Sunday afternoon told Swedish media.

Danish journalist Frank Undall on vacation with his family on Patong beach on Phuket decided this morning not to go to the beach – shortly after the wave hit and all was chaos.
     “We heard a big raor at around 10.05. Then a young girl came running horrified away from the beach. We look towards the beach and can see two building which had collapsed. Running back towards our hotel the water came gushing. It was black and muddy and soon it reach up to our knees.”
     “My wife and I looked up to the hotel. Our children where on the balcony and we shout to them to stay up there. Soon came the second wave. It hit hotel Seaview directly on the beach which it smashed towards. Ours is behind it. The second wave tore away the front of our hotel on the ground floor.”
     “In seconds the beach is a chaos of dead people, beach furniture, cars thrown around,” Frank Undall said. Then he started helping others.
     “A Belgian man had been swept through our hotel and was clinging to a tree on the other side. He had a fractured skull and we got him inside the hotel. A women had a big part of her leg muscle torn away. Several dead were carried into the hotel.
     Frank Undall said it took an hour before he heard the first sirene.
     “The staff from the hotel fled.”
     Frank Undall was last night recovering from the shock with other tourists further uphill.

Danish eye witness reports from Phuket are shocking.
     “We saw children being swept off to the sea. It is the worst I have ever witnesses,” Johnny Bogelund from Gladsaxe told the Danish national news agency Ritzau on hos mobile phone from Phuket. He was in the area near the beach with his girlfriend Helle Thomas when the wave hit.
     “There were dead people everywhere. I don’t want to stay here,” the Dane said. Together with seven other Danes he is now recovering in a hotel further up on the hills.
     Sanni Nielsen says she and a friend were on the way to the beach when people fleeing the area met them.
     “I didn’t see it myself, but other members of our group have had a horryfyiong experience.
     Niels Kristian Gade, a member of the group, could as the only member use his mobile phone and contacted relatives in Denmark to say all were accounted for.

ScandAsia will break off its news reporting but will resume our attempts to give news of special Nordic interest in the region seven hours from now, around 8 o’clock local time.

The death toll keeps rising as reports are gathered at the major news centres of the world. Latest reports now put the number at more than 9,300 people across Asia after one of the most powerful earthquakes on record triggered massive tidal waves that slammed into coastlines in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malaysia. Tourists, fishermen, hotels, homes and cars were swept away by walls of water unleashed by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, centred off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where at least 2,200 people were killed by floods and collapsing buildings, officials said.

Eye witnesses from Penang says the first tidal wave hit the coast at about non Sundayu. The second wavew they said hit at 2.15pm. First casualties were brought in to Penang Hospital, Balik Pulau Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital and the Kepala Batas Hospital shortly after.

The Norwegian Foreign ministry has so far no reports of Norwegian casualties or Norwegian injured in the disaster which hit South Asia on Sunday. The ministry has established emergency phone numbers for worried Norwegians: +47 22 24 33 23, +47 22 24 35 62, +47 22 24 35 63, +47 22 24 34 93, +47 22 24 34 99, +47 22 24 33 23

Soren Olsen, Danish attache/consul in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, has no reports that any Danes are hurt on Penang.
     “I have been in contact with the Danish residents on Penang and with our consul in Penang and it seems all are OK,” Soren Olsen says.

The telephone number for Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs is +46 8405 10 00 but the ministry says many are calling in and the waiting time may be long. The embassy in Bangkok has established a temporary offices on Phuket at Pearl Village Hotel, Nai Yang Beach and National Park. Concerned individuals may also call Sweden’s embassy in Bangkok +66 2263 7200, New Dehli +91 (11) 2419 71 00 or Colombo (Sri Lanka) +94 11 479 54 00.
     The minstryt encourages first to call the travel agency if not travelling individually. Swedish toursist who are unhurt are encouraged to contact theior agency or the Swedish autorities to report their whereabouts.

Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports one Dane dead and one injured in Phuket. Five are reported missing. The ministry’s website reported the news in Danish at 12:50 Danish time. The telephone number for the Ministry is +45 33 92 00 00

News from the Malaysian island of Langkawi South of Phuket has been scarce all day. News reports freom Malaysia now start mentioning the island.
     According to The Star Newsdesk, reports from the public say that the waves at Langkawi had hit as high as 8m. The seawaters swept more than 150m inland, drowning boatmen, holidaymakers and other people in its path. Boats were capsized or tossed up onto the roads, and houses and other property destroyed.
     Penang was the worst hit, with 38 reported dead and 30 missing at press time, Star online reports.
     The first of the tidal waves, which hit the coastal areas at different times, was reported at about noon, about three hours after the tremors were felt in Malaysia. However, a Penang Meteorological Services spokesman said the waves could have hit Penang shores earlier, before 11am.
     Earlier, between 9am and 9.30am, tremors lasting about one and two minutes were reported in all states except Malacca, Johor and Pahang. The tremors sent occupants of many high-rise buildings scurrying out in fear, while in other premises the people were told to leave.
     In Kedah, 12 more were reported dead and three missing, in Perak two dead and one missing and Selangor one dead.
     Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also the National Disaster Relief and Management committee chairman, has ordered the evacuation of residents in the coastal areas of Penang and Kedah due to concern that tidal waves might recur.

Hospitals in the hit Thai southern region are according to Thai TV news reports having problems keeping the casualties refrigerated as their morgues are full. The hospitals are reportedly resorting to leave the dead outside the morgues but injecting formalin in the bodies to prevent decay which might hamper identification later.

In Indonesia at least 721 people were confirmed dead from the quake and tsunamis in Aceh and North Sumatra, and the number of dead was expected to rise significantly, a government official told AFP.

Good internet news sources during the day have been: (for Malaysia)

Latest Thai casualty figures released:
Phuket: 66 people
Krabi: 38 people
Pangna: 83 people
Satun: 7 people
Ranong: 57 people
Trang 5 peaople
Total deaths 257 persons
Total injured 5,414 persons

Swedish national Bramo(?) Andersson has send a request for assistance via a news hotline established by ITV television. Andersson is stranded on Koh Klongtao near Krabi together with 20 other tourists and the group has had nothing to eat all day. There have been no contact with authorities all day and the groups is left in the dark on the island. The Swedish national left a Swedish mobile phone number for contact 00146 709 632 477

Danish eye witness report from Medan
Bjarne Wildau, freelance journalist and reporter for ScandAsia living in Medan in the Indonesian island of Sumatra reports how he experienced the earthquake this morning.
     “The ground was shaking under our feet. Flowers hanging in pots were swinging,” Bjarne Wildau writes.
     “While writing this, it is only a few hours since it happened.”
     #I had just been waking up as it happened. The bed started rocking back and forth. Everything hanging in the room started swinging. I stayed in bed and let the earth move under me.”
     “It all lasted probably only for about a minute. I guess I should have gotten up and run out of the house.”
     Bjarne Wildau adds, that earthquakes of minor scales happen around four times a year. Usually when there are damages it happens on the coast of Sumatra facing the Southpole, while Medan is located on the northern coast facing Malaysia.

Swedish Stefan Lebert and his family on Koh Lanta was around 17:00 Thai time in contact with Danish resident Hans Overgaard (vacationing in Australia). Stefan reported all well – under the circumstances. The whole group related to the Swedish school on Koh Lanta and Southern Lanta resort are on a resort up in the hills and waiting for when to be able to return. There has been quite some damage on buildings and equipment but nobody was dead, injured or missing, Hans Overgaard reports from his conversation with Stefan Lebert.

People concerned for the welfare of friends and relatives believed to be on or near the coast of Phuket when the wave hit can call the emergency rescue center at Tel: 076-214492 or 01-6432755. For calls from outside Thailand, the numbers are Tel: 66 76-214492 or Tel: 66 1 643 2755.

If calling from outside Thailand, the number for Phuket Provincial Police Headquarters is Tel: 66 76-212046. Phuket Tourist Police may be reached at Tel: 66 76-355015, if dialing from outside the Kingdom.

Governor of Pang Na province said to reporters that more than half of the casualties and injured in the province seemed to be foreigners from the reports he was collecting.

43 dead from tidal waves in Malaysia
     News Update by The Star Newsdesk
PETALING JAYA: At least 43 people were killed and more reported missing in several parts of Malaysia when tidal waves of up to six metres high hit northern Peninsular Malaysia as the result an earthquake in Sumatra Sunday.
     As at 9.30pm, Penang was the worst hit, with 33 reported dead and many more missing.
     Nine more were reported dead in Kedah (eight in Kota Kuala Muda and one in Langkawi), one in Tanjung Piandang, Perak and one in Sabak Bernam, Selangor.
     A Malaysian husband and wife were also reported killed while diving in the Emerald Cave off Thailand’s southern coast on after a huge tsunami struck.
     Two fishing boats washed ashore at the Jalan Tanjung Tokong by a tidal waves which hit coastal areas of Penang.
     Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has ordered the evacuation of residents in the coastal areas of Penang and Kedah due to concern that the tidal waves might recur.

Srilanka report:
2,134 people confirmed dead, with many still missing.

Soren Wettendorff, a Danish resident of Patong on Phuket was a sleep this morning, when suddenly the whole house shook. Rushing off to his restaurant Rottehullet he saw two cars who had ended up one on top of the other.
     “Boats are lying around on the street,” he said
     Outside Rottehullet Soren Wettendorf found the street covered in sand left by the wave and half a DVD shop from the corner down the road had been swooshed down in front of the restaurant.
     “During the day I have been in touch with most of our regular guests. I have about 40 -50 close friends and I have been in touch with almost all of them and they are alright,” he says.
     “You cannot imagine anything like it. People were smashed into walls, cars were left on top of other cars. A friend of mine was on the balcony of his apartment on 4th floor. Then suddenly furniture, TV sets, came washing out of the doors on the floor below as the water pushed into the house from the other side.”

Latest number of victims from Thai authorities:
223 dead
5200 injured

Expect quake after-shocks for next 3-4 days
December 26, 2004 16:44 IST
     After-shocks of Sunday’s earthquake may be felt for the next 3-4 days and people living in coastal areas should take special care during the next two days, experts have warned.
     The east and south coast of India was lashed by tsunamis triggered by a major earthquake [measuring over 8 on the Richter scale] with the epicentre in the island of Sumatra, Indonesia in South East Asia.
     “Whenever this type of a big earthquake occurs, after-shocks can be expected. In this case, after-shocks may continue for 3-4 days,” Earthquake Risk Evaluation Centre’s director A K Shukla said adding, “It may even go beyond that.”
     Although the after-shocks are of lesser magnitude, he said, “For 1-2 days, care should be taken in coastal areas.”
more on what a tsunami is:

Thai naval vessels have rescued a number of people stranded on Phi Phi island.

Wave Survivor Clings to Thai Hotel Pillar
Sun Dec 26, 2004 07:15 AM ET
By Karishma Vyas
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Up to his chest in raging water, Boree Carlsson clung desperately to a pillar in a hotel lobby as a giant tsunami wave pounded Thailand’s Phuket island Sunday.
     “I just couldn’t believe what was happening before my eyes,” said Carlsson, a 45-year-old Swede who had rushed into a hotel as the waves rolled into Patong Beach.
     The giant wave flooded the hotel lobby in a matter of seconds and dragged furniture onto the street.
     Carlsson had to wrap himself around a pillar to avoid being swept away.
     “As I was standing there, a car actually floated into the lobby and overturned because the current was so strong,” said Carlsson, who works at another beachside hotel.
     “The water was up to my chest and I was holding onto my friend’s hand because he can’t swim.” The giant waves triggered by an earthquake under the Indian Ocean tossed cars around like toys and swept into luxury hotels on Phuket, a tourist magnet in Thailand’s southern holiday playground, killing at least 120 people, officials said.
     The hardest hit areas included Phuket’s main resort beaches of Patong, Karon and Laguna where hotels were packed with Western and Asian tourists at the height of the year-end holiday season.
     Minutes after the first wave hit, Carlsson said he heard people screaming that the beach had disappeared.
     “When I got close to the beach I heard more screaming and suddenly I saw this huge wave, taller than the palm trees, coming to crash down on us. It was unbelievable.”
     On Phi Phi island, about 25 miles from Phuket, Christian Patauraux said he saw many dead and injured after huge waves “flattened” the tiny island featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 film “The Beach.”
     “I am OK. Many dead people everywhere. I cannot call because the network is saturated,” the Belgian tourist said in a text message to his anxious girlfriend in Singapore.

By Simon Gardner
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Reuters) – The world’s fifth-largest quake in a century hit southern Asia on Sunday, unleashing a tsunami that crashed into Sri Lanka and India, drowning thousands and swamping tourist isles in Thailand and the Maldives.
     A wall of water up to 30 feet high triggered by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake swept into Indonesia, over the coast of Sri Lanka and India and across southern Thai tourist islands, leaving up to 3,100 feared dead in seaside towns and villages.
     Two-thirds of the Maldives capital, Male, was flooded and officials voiced anxiety for the fate of dozens of low-lying, palm-ringed coral atolls crowded with international tourists for the Christmas holiday season.

Thai center for recording disaster victims has the latest figures of affected people as:

158 dead while receiving medical treatment in the hospital
1912 injured
10.000 tourists evacuated to higher ground

200 bungalows and 2 resorts swept out to sea along with staff and guests

2300 dead

2250 dead

10 victims in Penang
At least 10 people in Penang and another five in Kota Kuala Muda in Kedah have been confirmed drowned as a result of tidal waves caused by the aftershock of a massive earthquake in Aceh. . full story on

Earthquake, flooding kills more than 400 in Indonesia
LHOKSEUMAWE, Indonesia: Indonesian towns nearest the epicenter of Sunday’s massive undersea earthquake were leveled by tidal waves, killing at least 408 people and leaving bodies wedged in trees as the waters receded, officials and witnesses said. full story on

Time frame of the events on Phuket:
07 o’clock: The undersea volcano 330 km. off the west coast of Sumatra Island, Indonesia, erupted, producing a 10 meter waves.
08.04: The socalled Tsunami wave travelling about 7 -800 km per hour flooded the west coast of Phuket and other islands and coastal areas of the west coast of Southern Thailand.
10.30: The second wave hit Phuket, Phi Phi and other islands and the coast in the area.
13.00: The third wave hit the coast and islands of Thailand.

Kenneth Jorgensen of Kuoni and Apollo in Thailand is currently on Phuket locating all guests of the tour agency. He is working with other Kuoni and Apollo guides and all findings are reported to the head offices in Denmark and Sweden.

Only one of the two bridges connecting Phuket with the mainland is closed down – the other remains open. The closed dowqn bridge is the Sarasin bridge, which was damaged by the wave this morning. The newer bridge remains open.

Ib Johansen, Consul at the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore, heard earlier today from two Danish families vacationing in Phuket. Both were well.
     “One couple send me an SMS saying everything was chaos, but thet they were OK,” Ib johansen says.
     “The other couple said they were well, except all their valuables, passport, air tickets and everything had been swept off to sea by the wave.”
     In some areas of Singapore, the earthquake this morning was felt. Especially on the parts of the island where the underground is sand.
     “I was together with some Danish friends earlier today who live on 17th floor on the eastern part of Singapore island and they had been alarmed by their chandelier swinging back and forth,” the consul says.

Soren Olsen, Attache/Consul at the Royal Danish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has not received any news of the big wave reaching Lang Kawi. The popular Malaysian island resort of Lang Kawi is located not far to the South of the Thai island of Phuket.

The bodies of one foreign man and two women have been found on Phi Phi. Their nationalities have not yet been established.
Sunday, December 26, 2004

Swedish Tourists tell of their tidal wave ordeal
PHUKET: Swedish tourist Kjell Sk?ld, of Gothenburg, has described how the rising waters of the wave trapped him, his wife, Bibi, and their young children in their bungalow at Andaman Bay Resort, at Bang Tao.
“The water went out then came back in very, very quickly, taking everything with it,” said Mr Sk?ld. “When the water came into the bungalow, we put everything on the beds … all the windows were closed, so the water kept pushing everything up towards the roof.
“It pushed us up to the roof, then the roof came off and we floated away.”
After being washed down to land, Mr and Mrs Sk?ld managed to get their seven-year-old daughter, Stephanie, to safety in a high cement building, but then realized that their 10-year-old son, Sebastian, was missing.
He was found a few minutes later, about 200 meters away, sitting in a tree the flood had swept him to. “I can’t put into words what it feels like to be missing your son,” said Mr Sk?ld.
He added that the family were four days into a three-week holiday. “We were supposed to be going to Koh Lanta today, but we’ve lost everything. This is all we have,” said Mr Skoll holding up a 15-liter backpack.
Marie Holmberg, her husband Henrik and her parents Denis and Gun Larsson went to see the chaos caused by the the first wave to hit Karon Beach … and found themselves caught up in the second wave.
“We were standing there taking pictures and the wave started coming back, faster and faster, so we started to run away, faster and faster, but my parents didn’t run fast enough,” said Mrs Holmberg, from Sweden.
The wave knocked Mr and Mrs Larsson over, and they were hit by rubbish floating in the water, but they were well enough to make their own way to Phuket International Hospital for Mr Larsson to be treated for a badly damaged toe and other cuts and bruises.
A member of staff at Bangkok Phuket Hospital said that at least 50 victims of the wave were taken to the hospital within an hour and a half of the wave hitting the island, but she said it was too early to confirm the numbers of injured – or the number of dead.

More local news:
Tidal wave toll: 35 dead, 355 injured
PHUKET: The tidal wave that hit Phuket this morning has claimed the lives of 35 people and injured some 355, Wisut Romin, the Deputy Secretary of Phuket Provincial Administration Office, has announced…

Tidal wave toll rises
PHUKET: An unconfirmed 22 people have died and more than 1,000 people have sought refuge at the Phuket Provincial Office in Phuket City after Phuket’s coast was swamped by a tidal surge caused by an e…

Phuket coast swamped after Sumatra earthquake
PHUKET: Emergency response units have been scrambled after waters off Phuket surged onto land this morning, washing away homes on the east coast and causing damage at resorts all along the west coast….

A Thai hotline for information on names of injured, dead and lost has opened. The phone number is 1669. Latest report is 1343 injured, 118 dead and about 2000 people missing.

CLARIFICATION: The Report from Lars Pinnerup on Koh Chang was NOT send from his vacation on the island of that name in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border, but on the Chang island in Ranong Province about three hours north of Phuket.

Allan Virtanen, Finnish reporter working for ScandAsia, was vacationing on Koh Lanta when this morning he saw the wave coming out at sea.
     “I immediately started my motorcyclecyle and sped up on higher grounds. TFrom there I could see the restaurant on the beach being swept away when the wave the shore.
     The wave continued up on the shore and floaded the cottage where he had slept only a few hours earlier.

Danish Consul Ulrik Holt Sorensen is on his way to Phuket by Thai Airways as the airport has now been declared open again. The consul and Ambassador Ulrik Helweg Larsen have decided to travel seperately to ensure that they are not stuck both of them at the same time on their way. The Amassador is planning to fly to Phuket tomorrow morning.

Koh Chang hit by tidal wave. ScandAsia reporter Lars Pinnerup vacationing on the island reports from this morning:
      “I was having a massage in my room which is a bungalow on the beach. Suddenly the water was rushing out to sea and then the water rose 3 meters. The bungalow is built on stilts, but the water was suddenly up to over our knees. Soldiers came to rush us up in the hills, but I stayed to take photos. The waves were gushing back and forth and swe3eping down the coast. At a point the sea bottom several hundred meters off the coast was suddenly visible.

All flights to and from Phuket Airport are cancelled and the airport is now only open for rescue team arrivals.

The bridge between Phuket and the mainland has been damaged. According to news reports, Thai authorities are considering closing down the bridge for traffic in both directions.

The total population in the Thai provinces hit by the disaster is estimated to 3 million people,

Thai authorities are looking for a boat on its way to Similan Island with 500 passengers. Contact was lost after the wave hit the area.

DTAC system in the Phuket area is down.

Contact by phone to the Swedish resort Southern Lanta on the Koh Lanta beach is not possible. The situation of the family of Stefan and Camilla Lebert is unknown. The family has been interviewed twice by ScandAsia.

Next wave is reported to hit Phuket 15.58, Thai radio reports

Other useful news portals to watch:

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A huge earthquake hit southern Asia on Sunday, setting off a tsunami that drowned hundreds in Sri Lanka and India, sent Indonesians rushing to high ground and washed away bathers on the Thai tourist island of Phuket.

The earthquake of magnitude 8.5 as measured by the U.S. Geological Survey first struck at 7:59 a.m. (0059 GMT) off the coast of the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra and swung north with multiple tremors into the Andaman islands in the Indian Ocean.

Reports from India talk of 200 casualties – mostly fishermen – of the disaster and 2000 people evacuated.

Eye witness reports from Phuket tell of an eery sight as the sea first subsided 3 – 4 meters for a few minutes as the water was sucked into the coming wave. Minutes later the ten meter wave hit the shore and swept up into the town of Patong and Kata.

The Royal Thai Army, Airforce, and Navy have started rescue operations, Thai media report. Helicopters are flying out to smaller island looking for people in need of help.

Mr. Stig Vagt Andersen of the travel agency Adisti which is working with Kuoni and Apollo Travel says that his company has accounted for the very few individual travellers in their care. Mr. Vagt Andersen reported that he had called hotels and talked either to the Danes themselves or the hotel management and all were accounted fore. The list was sent back to Kuoni in Copenhagen.
     In Stockholm and Copenhagen, Kuoni is working closely with the Minsirty of Foreign Affairs in contacting travellers and as they are accounted for contacting relatives.

The Royal Danish Embassy in Bangkok is investigating ways to get transportation down to the Phuket area. Consul Ulrik Holt Sorensen and Ambassador Ulrik Helweg Larsen are both in the Embassy surveying the situation through contacts in the travel industry. Flights to Phukets have been suspended but airports nearby could be an alternative, the embassy says. As people are fleeing the area, traffic conditions are suposedly bad and compared to being stuck in a car on the road it may be more useful to stay in Bangkok and keep a close contacts to sources in the area, Mr. Holt Sorensen says.

Hotel staff on Phi Phi call for help. A staff reached a radio station in Bangkok said there were casualties and complained of so far no help from authorities.

The Scandinavian Restaurant “Two Chefs” on Kata Beach said over the phone that residents in Phuket had been warned of a second wave to hit the west coast of the island in about an hour – around 16.00 – and that the boathouse of the restaurant had completely disappeared.

Bangkok Phuket Hospital reached by phone from Bangkok said they had no overview of the number of people brought in to the emergency. They refer callers to the Tourism Authority of Thailand phone number +666 383 907

The number of casualties from SriLanka is reported over 300 now.

Hotel Hilton reached by phone from Bangkok reports water rising into the lobby of the hotel byt no casualties.

An earthquake in India at 5 on the Richter scale has reportedly caused casualties on 74 people.

Maldives are hit as well by the tidal wave with over 100 people feared dead. The vacation islands are very low and prone to this kind of disaster.

26.12.04 – 14.28
News from Thai TV talks of over 100 people feared dead in the disaster on Phuket and surrounding small islands.

Boats operating between Phuket and the many small islands are missing. A big boat carrying 200 people is missingf says Thai TV channel 11 and between 30 – 40 minor boats taking people to among others Phi Phi island is missing at sea.

Tsunami kills tourist on Thai island
Sun Dec 26, 2004 06:04 AM GMT

BANKGOK (Reuters) – A tsunami triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean has killed one tourist on the southern Thai resort island of Phuket and may have swept four or five more out to sea, officials said.
About 100 people were injured as the wave, 5 to 10 metres (16 to 32 feet) high, crashed onto beaches lined with luxury hotels at the peak of the tourist season, they said.
The government has temporarily suspended travel to the island.
“I got a report that tourists playing in the water were swept out to sea and four to five tourists were reported missing,” Phuket Governor Udomsak Asvarangkul told Reuters on Sunday.
It was not clear how many tourists were among the injured, he said.
The tsumani killed 150 people in Sri Lanka and washed ashore as far apart as the eastern Indian coastal city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras, and Indonesia’s Sumatra island.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who announced the travel suspension, told reporters the southern provinces of Krabi and Pang-nga had also been hit, but not as badly as Phuket.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in our country before,” he said.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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