Krabi / Phiphi Report
By Mr Lob
Firstly, to all that have been affected by the events of December 26th, deepest condolences.
I live in one of the most beautiful parts of Thailand – Krabi. At 9am on Boxing Day I read that people had felt very strong, long tremors in Bangkok. An hour later one of my cats started going nuts – meowing like I never heard before. This
is when the first wave had hit Ao Nang, about 3 minutes down the road from my house. Confused reports then started coming in about people being killed in Ao Nang. A few of us jumped on our bikes and headed for the beachfront. The scene was heartbreaking
– longtail boats lying smashed into pieces on the road and pavement, life jackets in the surf and a whole load of washed-up sandals. There had been a warning from the police after Phuket was hit – but the longtail boat drivers had
only a few minutes to get their boats to a more sheltered bay around the corner. Having watched footage of the first wave hitting, there were many boats racing for this bay, but inevitably they got wiped out. There are apparently 200 boats of
varying sizes missing from Krabi.
Due to Ao Nang having a fairly new sea wall, it wasn’t hit so bad in comparison to other areas. There are a few semi-collapsed restaurants on the beach, and Nopparat Thara beach has lost a few bars. There were rescue trucks, ambulances, police
cars, helicopters and army trucks ferrying the injured between the local islands and Krabi Hospital all day – these guys have being doing a great job, they really have. The hospital was absolutely overflowing with the injured and their
families – there were even some farang doctors – who had been on holiday – helping co-ordinate and treating patients. Hat Yai and Trang hospitals have been taking some of the injured, as people were coming to Krabi from all areas
and could not cope with the sheer numbers.
I along with the rest of the diving community have been on-call to help out the Navy – yesterday we went to bring some friends of friends back from Koh Phi Phi. The pictures on the TV do not do it justice – there are some areas that have
been relatively untouched and others – like the main town of Tonsai which are completely obliterated. Talking to the guys we helped out, they told us about when the Tsunamis hit. They were sitting in their climbing shop right on the edge
of the water, when the sea just disappeared in front of them. They thought this was very strange….then saw the first wave coming in. People screaming and running, they headed straight up to the second floor of their shop and threw ropes
over the balcony to save who they could – 4 people grabbed the ropes but only 2 had the strength to hold on. A wave then came from the other side of the island and washed through the market area which was packed with tourists and Thais,
then washed back out to sea. The guys spent the day digging out people from the rubble and giving first aid & CPR – they couldn’t save many.
There were rumours of other waves coming, so many people were heading for the Viewpoint – one of the highest points on Phi Phi Don. A friend gave this account: “ people were running for Viewpoint saying that another wave was coming. I had
just helped a pregnant Thai woman to a helicopter and joined the others going for higher land. Running past flattened bungalows I heard a voice shouting for help, coming from the rubble. I saw a hand moving and the guy said he could see me and
asked to be helped. Over-run with worry about another wave coming, I had to leave him. That was very hard to do” These guys did a great job in helping – they themselves covered in cuts and bruises.
We landed the speedboat as close as we could to the guys’ shop to collect their gear and walked past where a resort once stood, a convenience store which had been looted for food and water, and past a blanket-cover body. This was apparently a 30-ish
farang woman who had been floating in the sea nearby – they tried to save her but she never came round. It’s just heartbreaking to think that she has people worried about her and probably know nothing.
After collecting the guys’ equipment we picked up a few more people at the pier – next to our boat a small navy boat towed in another body – a farang woman wearing a yellow bikini – and lay her on the beach with the many others.
The problem the authorities are having with identifying people is that many were wearing only swim shorts or bikinis so have no ID on them. One girl we know here has lost 10 members of her family. Speaking to a friend in Khao Lak, he went to salvage
what he could from his dive shop and found a car outside with dead people sitting in it. The magnitude of this disaster is just beginning to set in.
In Ao Nang now things seem to be getting back to ‘normal’, and it is good to see – people need to move on positively in order to keep people coming to this amazing region of Thailand. Again, deepest sympathies to those that have lost
This is just horrible, it really is. Thanks so much for the first hand report.