News

Parts of Thailand Showing Signs of Recovery from Tsunami

One of the first regions to show signs of recovery from southern Asia's devastating earthquake and tsunami is Thailand's southwestern province of Phuket.

Along Phuket Island's Patong Beach, workers are rebuilding shops and restaurants that were gutted two weeks ago by the giant waves of water.

Khun Bui, a 45 year-old owner of a food kiosk on the central beachfront, is one of those trying to put back together her life and livelihood. As her nephews rebuild the new counter for her gas cooker, she stands on the breezeway outside her shop, selling tea and cold drinks from a table.

Khun Bui says the tsunami swept away everything in her shop that Sunday morning, but everyone in her family survived. "Tsunami no good. I no work. Thailand no have," he says.

In front of the food court, the beach has been swept clean of dirt and debris left by the tsunami. A few tourists relax on the white sand. A few of the young men who rent jet skis and a few of the ladies who provide massages on the beach are back, but there are few customers.

The government has banned beach chairs, umbrellas and vendors from the beach for now. As a result, longtime residents say it looks like it did 20 years ago, before Phuket became a world class tourist destination and major foreign exchange earner for the Thai government.

Debris still litters the beach road, but it is gradually being cleared and the city is working to restore water and electricity to this part of town.

The wall of water one-story high wiped out the ground-level floors of virtually all the buildings facing the beach. And it swept debris several hundred meters up the alleys into the town. But the back streets were not hit and businesses there are open as usual.

Shop owners are rebuilding shelves and display cases as quickly as they can, hoping to salvage some business before the high season ends in April.

Tawansak Patiyasewi, who has owned a ceramics shop on the beach road for 20 years, says some owners have the money to hire others to do the work, but he and his wife do not and so are working alone to rebuild their business. They still live in their apartment above the shop though it is without running water. Nevertheless, he is hopeful. "Slowly, it will take time to re-build the shops, the hotels, fill up the hotels. So it will take, I think, about three months," he says.

Some of the hardest hit hotels have closed for renovation and probably will not re-open for months, but many are still open.

One of these is the Club Andaman hotel. Its grounds were flooded by the tsunami, but its buildings were not damaged. Manager Adison Sittiwong, who survived the waves that morning, says that after days of cleaning things are getting back to normal. "Eighty percent of the hotels in Phuket are operating normally, except for 10 to 20 percent, some badly damaged, some slightly damaged. In February, we will be recovering," he says.

Occupancy rates are 10 percent of capacity or less. But he says travel agents are beginning to make bookings again and repeat visitors have promised to return. Nevertheless, he fears that most of the high season - when the tourism industry makes 80 percent of its annual profits - will be lost.

About 100 kilometers up the coast in Khao Lak, which was much harder-hit - workers are still recovering bodies of the several thousand missing people and relief agencies are struggling to provide food and shelter to tens of thousands of homeless. But officials say they are about to pass the crisis stage.

Survivors are starting to move from tents into temporary housing and they are receiving food and clothing. This week children in the area returned to school.

As a result, signs of normalcy are showing in these communities, although the atmosphere of shock and trauma are likely to remain for a long time.

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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs