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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs