News

    Witnesses Recall Tidal Wave Disaster

    Nancy-Amelia Collins

    As the death toll mounts after tidal waves swept across Asia Sunday following a 9.0 earthquake that struck near the Indonesian island of Sumatra, survivors struggle to comprehend what happened.

    British tourist Caroline Woods was strolling through a beach-front market on the southern Thai resort island of Phuket Sunday when suddenly she saw people running and shouting.

    The mother of four says she turned to walk through the market entrance, which faces the ocean, to see what the commotion was about.

    "Normally, when you turned around there you'd see the horizon, so you'd see the sea and then you'd see the sky, and instead when I turned around all I could see was the sea. It was just the sea has just blocked the sky. It was obviously the point when this whole thing was coming in. And the people outside had obviously seen it and were screaming," she described.

    Frantic to reach her children who were with her sister at the hotel, the London native ran toward her lodgings.

    "The water just came over the road and my partner was trying to get me to stay put and all I could think about was getting back to the children," she continued.

    Ms. Woods says there was chaos all around her, but eventually she managed to reach her children, who were unharmed.

    "So we were wading through the water, there were petrol barrels emptying petrol and stinging my legs, ambulances floating, [we were] treading on things, not knowing what was what, cars were floating down the road, one lady had her foot chopped off," she recalled.

    The earthquake that struck off the western coast of Sumatra sent tidal waves crashing all over the region - from Indonesia to Malaysia and Thailand, to India and as far away as Somalia in Africa.

    Thousands of people are dead and millions displaced in the aftermath of the biggest earthquake in four decades.

    Among those killed Sunday was the grandson of the King of Thailand, 21-year-old Bhumi Jensen, who was vacationing in Phuket with his mother Princess Ubolratana.

    Waves as high as 10 meters swept away everything in their path, from sunbathers and fisherman to trucks and boats. Millions of homes and businesses were destroyed across the region.

    Australian Graham Doven, a publisher who has lived on Phuket for 15 years, says people there are in shock.

    "There was just a lot of people stunned, you know, they were just standing around staring at what I guess were their businesses and shops, just unable to comprehend at this point," he said. "Other people were getting stuck into cleaning up already, somebody managed to actually reopen last night who lost all the walls of his establishment."

    The tidal waves struck with little or no warning on the sunny Sunday morning.

    Ms. Woods, who vacations every year on Phuket, worries about the future of the island and its people.

    "And it's a beautiful island, the people are so lovely and now we're sitting here in this swanky hotel drinking a Singha beer and they're sitting on the beach and crying because they've got nothing left," said Ms. Woods.

    She cannot understand why there was no warning about the tsunami risk after the quake struck.

    "Why didn't we know this was coming? If they knew that an earthquake had happened, why didn't they know that there were likely to be these tidal waves and why didn't they tell Phuket?" she questioned.

    An official with Thailand's Seismological Bureau says the country does not have an international warning system. Australian Prime Minister John Howard says his government will consider helping set up a tsunami warning system for countries around the Indian Ocean, but the program first needs to be researched.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora