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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs