Dive Aid


A Decimated Khao Lak

Last Updated: 9-Jan-2005, Andrea

Dear truly friends,

I am so glad to be able to sit here now and write this e-mail to you. Thank you so much for your mails, your concerns, your faith and your support. I am crying reading through all the lovely mails I got. I am sorry I have to answer via mass mail again, but itís just so many that it would take me too long to answer all of them separately.

I am fine and safe back here in Munich, Germany now. I am very sorry I took me so long to write this e-mail to you, but I wasnít able to think or talk or do anything the first days. I still canít believe that horrible, horrible sad day when Khao Lak got wiped out and with it friends and everything else I had. I have seen so many people dying there and I donít think its fair, but I must have had so many angels up there, walking out of this disaster without even a scratch. As you probably all know by now from the news 5.000 people didnít come back from Khao Lak only.

I arrived in germany after 4 years in Thailand with a little rucksack, but material things donít mean anything to me anymore. A lot of people called already asking how I am and what happened. I got out physically with no scratch, but the unbelievable horrible things I have seen, the fear and the pain I have felt burnt itself deep inside me and I still cant imagine how to ever be normal again. It hurts me so much to tell what has happened over and over again, thatís why I decided to write this mail to everyone. I will also attach a writings of my friend and some pictures.

We had celebrated Christmas altogether on the 25th. It was a great evening with all our best friends. All of us spoke to our families on the phones-everything was fine and we were happy. Jim and I were supposed to work the next day (26th), but he told me to sleep in as the dive schools werenít busy Ė it was Christmas. I woke up at 8.15 because the bed and house was shaking. I had no idea what it was and it didnít feel strong at all, so I didnít realize it was the earthquake and we had no idea that there was one happening. Jim left to work, but called me to take the morning off and come in at 2pm as probably nothing really would happen on Boxing Day morning. I went to the beach for breakfast and had planned to stay on the beach. My sister had visited me a week before and Jim had been literally working his ass off trying to give me free time to spend with my sister as we work 7 days a week. Thinking of this I felt guilty to have the morning off and decided to go to work. I went to the laundry place before, where we had a big pile of clothes to be picked up and than to the German bakery to get some breakfast for Jim and left for the dive shop.

On the way I saw the ocean being really strange, very far away from the shore. It was a full moon day and supposed to be high tide. I had almost reached the shop when I heard a strange sound (the wave) and Thai people were running around like crazy shouting in thai ďgo quickly, water comingĒ. I had no idea and just reached the shop asking Jim what had happened. It was 10.30 am; the time when they wave hit Khao Lak. He said the power went of. As this happens all the time here I couldnít believe that this was the only reason. I took him outside the shop where he also realized that something else must have happened. People were running round like crazy and talking about a big wave and water everywhere. We thought maybe a very high tide has flooded parts.

We went on the bike to see what is going on. We had never realized that our dive shop is located on a little hill. Opposite is a dense forest which blocks the view to the sea. Dears and other animals I didnít even know we had in Khao Lak came running out of the forest and made us realize that something is really wrong. We drove with the bike for only 100m and couldnít believe what we saw. There was literally nothing there anymore. All the places I had just been were gone and you couldnít even tell anymore that there was something there before. And as I found out later, only one person of all the three places I had been just minutes before had survived.

The water was still about 3m high in the area, cars were on two-story houses, people hanging dead in electricity lines high up the ground, motorbikes on top of palm trees, it was just unreal. There was no way to get through to our friends who we knew live-as we too-in this area on the beach. We went back, trying to drive out the other way of the road and saw the same things. There was nothing, just nothing left there. You really couldnít tell that there were all these 5 star hotels and restaurants and shops before. Nothing was higher than 30 centimeters anymore. All that was left of o stretch of 40 km and even totally undamaged was one side of a 400m stretch of road where our dive shop is located. Also on this way there was no chance to get anywhere further than a few hundred meters.

We went to the beach to look for friends and see if we can help. What we saw there was worse than everything you could ever imagine. People covered in blood, no ears, no arms, kids with no legs, a woman with a huge palm tree branch stuck through her body, a girl with a massive whole in her head where the brain came out and as far as you could see dead bodies or just parts of bodies everywhere. You couldnít see any beach anymore, just hundreds of dead bodies. We are trained in basic first aid and had no idea what to do with these serious injuries. There are no hospitals or anything like that in Khao Lak. The way to the hospitals in Thai Muang and Takuapa (20minutes away) was cut off. All we had and could get was a little first aid box we had in the dive shop which was literally empty in 5 minutes. We couldnít do anything than get the survivors away from the beach and felt so helpless. Being in absolute fear of our best friends, we tried again to go to the area where most of them used to live. We found the first friends. They had been taken by the wave from their houses on the beach 2 kilometer far away into the jungle. They were alive!!! But still lots of them missing.

Suddenly total panic again. The water in the ocean really far out again. Everyone screaming, people running each other over, because of the fear of a second wave. This scenario went on in the next 4 days over and over again. But there was never another wave. Khao Lak had been hit by a 10m wave that destroyed everything, followed minutes later by a second wave. Because of the panic everyone who could still walk ran up the hill. We took the injured people and drove as many as we could up there too. I cant tell you how many times we ran up and down the hills in these days, just because it drove us crazy to sit up there while we were missing still our friends who needed help. Also our dive staff was out on the ocean with a full live aboard, supposed to come back on the 26. There was no chance to contact them. Everything was destroyed.

The next days nothing happened. No helicopter, no cars, no anything. It was dead quiet. People who had survived the wave died up there in the jungle on there injuries. The smell in Khao Lak was unbearable. There was no water, no food, and no clothes, no anything. Jim and I had a box full of promotion t-shirts in the dive shop and our laundry, giving it out to people and had set up with the neighbor shop a first aid station just above coral grand on the first day. On day three we had most of our closest friends together, they were injured but alive and they had been going through hell. We were still missing two. Running around to all the first aid stations in the jungle, looking for their names on the survivor lists people had started, we had no luck. We had to go back to the beach and look through the dead bodies for our friends. It was so horrible I canít describe. More and more bodies got spit out by the sea to the beach while the days were passing. You couldnít even tell anymore if they were tourists, or Thais, slim or fat and the smellÖ Our friends had tattoos so we just looked for that. That day we passed by our houses as well. All of them destroyed. Day 3 in the daytime our friends from the boat turned up. They had nothing happening out there on the sea and were all fine, just couldnít believe what they saw. Tears were running down on everyoneís face. At about midnight one of the last missing ones turned up. An hour later we found the last one. I canít tell you the happiness we felt to see them, even they were seriously injured. The luck to have not lost anyone of our closest friends was unbelievable. We brought them to Phuket hospital as the roads were free again. It usually takes 50 minutes, but that day 4,5 hours. We still miss lots of people we knew, but found all our closest friends.

Back in Khao Lak we tried to make a plan how to get out there, as this was all we wanted since days. To go home and see our families and friends again, because we were so lucky to be able to. We had no petrol, no cars no anything anymore. We had used all of it to et injured people out. Our boss suddenly arrived from BKK and brought cars with petrol and an hour later we left. The Thai people all along have been amazing, sharing food, clothes, water everything with us. Helping as much as they could, even almost all of them had lost their families and houses and jobs. Back in BKK we got no help from any of the embassies. It was unbelievable and so disappointing. Having feared for our lives for so many days all of us expected help there. They told us we have to pay for flights, passports and so on, but we didnít even have shoes and most of the people still no clothes on their bodies. Again the Thais were the ones who helped us!!!!!!!!!

Our biggest concern now is to help all our lovely Thai friends in Khao Lak and the poor fishermen and their families who had done everything they could to help. They canít go home and get help from their families and friends. Friends have started up a webpage and soon I will send an address where you can spend money to if you want. We have still friends who are in Khao Lak still searching for their partners and parents which we will send that money to and who make sure that it goes to the Thai people who need it now.

I will definitely be here until I get my passport and papers. What I do than I have no idea. Have to start from zero again. The most important thing to me is to see Jim as soon as possible, who is in New Zealand right now. Please understand that I canít call everyone as all I have is the support from my family and I canít leave them with a massive telephone bill. I lost most phone numbers too, so please write me you numbers per mail. Special thanks to Alexander who send the news that we live to a lot of people per mail, and Martina who put it in web pages where friends were searching for Jim and me. And of course thank to these friends who were searching via net.

Please take care of your friends and loved ones. Appreciate live and enjoy every day of your life. I have seen that it can all disappear in only 10 minutes.

Love you all, Andrea

  A Decimated Khao Lak
 
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