Summary of quake events for Tuesday:
December 27, 2004
BANGKOK, Thailand – A blond 2-year-old boy, a foreigner, was found by other tourists sitting along on a road after the tidal waves ravaged a resort in southern Thailand. He was recovering Monday night in a hospital – alone. His parents are missing.
The child, his nationality not yet known, was discovered in the road not far from the town of Khao Lak in Phang-nga province, where the surging waves swept away hundreds of tourists.
“He looked bleak when he arrived at the hospital on Sunday night with some surface wounds on his face and body,” said Vilad Mumbansao at Phuket International Hospital.
The boy babbled, but hospital staffers couldn’t figure out what language he was using.
“He could be Swedish because he was enthusiastic when a man spoke Swedish to him,” Vilad said. “The baby looked today as if he began thinking of his parents.”
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PHUKET, Thailand – Thousands of year-end holiday makers – escapees from the cold north or the humdrum of early summer south of the equator – lined up Monday at City Hall in the biggest town on this island paradise, waiting for new travel documents. They shared one thought: leaving the scene of the horrendous natural disaster that struck the day after Christmas.
Nineteen embassies from Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere sent officials to set up makeshift consular offices to help replace passports and other necessary papers washed out to sea by the receding tidal waves after the monster earthquake to the south.
In a babel of languages – Italian, Swedish, French, English and Thai – appeals rang out for blood donors. There was free food and drink. Local officials parceled out hotel rooms at an inland town, one of the few settlements not ravaged to near nothing by the waves.
John Krueger, 34, of Winter Park, Colo., waited to speak with a U.S. Embassy official. He and his wife, 26-year-old Romina Canton, an Argentine, had survived – just barely.
They were in their beach bungalow north of Phuket when sea rushed in and blew it apart.
“The water rushed under the bungalow, brought our floor up and raised us to the ceiling,” he said. “The water blew out our doors, our windows and the back concrete wall. My wife was swept away with the wall, and I had to bust my way through the roof.”
Krueger was sucked nearly 10 feet underwater, and Canton was dragged out to sea where she struggled to live for more than an hour before the sea tossed her back ashore with a broken nose, fractured foot and scrapes over most of her body.
“It was like white water rafting. … She was naked on the beach (when he found her) because she had just gotten out of the shower. It was like being in a washing machine,” Krueger said.
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MALE, Maldives – The airport reopened on this Indian Ocean tourist getaway Monday, a day after tidal waves swept across the collection of low-lying atolls, inundating some. Foreign tourists rushed to departure gates, desperate to leave a holiday gone desperately wrong.
At least 43 people were confirmed dead and 63 reported missing in the popular tourist destination from what witnesses said were three-foot waves that rolled across many of the islets, washing tourists from their hotel rooms and swimmers out to sea.
“We grabbed what we could and tried to run, but there was nowhere to run,” said Eloisa Cina, 29, from Rome.
Mike Rigg, 33, a construction worker from near Liverpool, England, was surfing when the tsunami hit. He rode the surge, trying desperately not to get caught in the powerful current heading out to sea.
Bucking the outflow of tourists, a band of Russian holiday-makers arrived Monday on the chain of 1,192 coral atolls southwest of India and were determined to have their vacation regardless. Tourist industry officials more than 85 percent of resorts had been damaged.
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PENANG, Malaysia – The beaches – normally abuzz with roaring jet skis and filled with vacationers playing volleyball and soccer – were silent, empty.
One hundred people were still missing here Monday and rescue teams scoured the gardens of oceanside resorts and heavily forested coastal areas on the island, home to Malaysia’s bustling, second-largest city and some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Officials said 52 were dead and more than 220 injured after earthquake-driven tidal waves swept down the Malacca Straits and crashed into Penang.
In Kuala Lumpur, the capital, engineers inspected Malaysia’s 1,483-foot Petronas Twin Towers, the world’s second-tallest buildings, for structural damage from the giant quake. Initial checks found no damage, but a skybridge linking the towers was closed as a precaution.
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MACHILIPATNAM, India – The body jammed into a storm drain was so plastered with mud it was hard to tell the gender. It might have gone undiscovered for days, but the smell of rotting flesh drew rescue workers to the beachside gutter Monday.
Their faces wrapped in cloth against the smell, the workers pulled the body from its resting place. They wiped away the mud. A man stepped forward and claimed it – his 25-year-old wife, Manikal.
“It is beyond all my worst nightmares that such a thing will happen to my family. My whole world has come crashing down,” cried Basu Raju.
He and their 2-year-old son survived Sunday’s tsunami when it hit this town in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. They had decided against joining the wife and mother for a morning stroll on the beach.
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CALCUTTA, India – Retired policeman Sibdas Chakraborty, vacationing with his family, turned around on the deck of the anchored ferry at Port Blair to survey the spectacular coastline.
He was met with a sight he doesn’t think he’ll ever forget: A tidal wave was smashing the gangplank like the one he and dozens of other travelers had just crossed to board the ferry.
“I saw to my horror the main jetty collapsing and waves suddenly rising higher and higher,” Chakraborty said Monday.
The captain came running out of his cabin, yelled at the crew to lift the anchor and set to sea immediately. One boy fell overboard but was rescued.
The ferry moved away from the dock at Port Blair, capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands territory, just in time to avoid being pummeled against the shore.
“Had the ship been at the jetty a few minutes longer the waves would have crushed us,” Chakraborty said. “It was like the sea was being churned with a big paddle.”
The ferry was to take its passengers, including Chakraborty, his wife, daughter and grandson, to Havelock Island, a popular picnic ground. Instead the boat spent nine hours at sea while the waters returned to their normal tropical calm.
When Chakraborty returned to land he found their room in a seaside guest house torn apart by the waves. They moved into an emergency shelter at a school.
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KARAPITIYA, Sri Lanka – Hundreds of searchers, mostly relatives looking for their loved ones, tiptoed into the hospital Monday trying to avoid stepping on the arms and legs of the dead laid out on the walkway of this teaching hospital in southern Sri Lanika.
They checked the faces. Some passed by, some froze – when they found what they feared they would.
There were so many dead in Karapitiya, 68 miles south of Colombo, the city ran out of appropriate places to put the bodies. Some were put in a garbage disposal area, others lined walkways and some still lay on flatbed trucks that gathered them up.
After the tidal waves hit this town founded by Dutch colonialists in the 17th century, about 300 people came to the small hospital and were given first aid, said C.D. Pathirana, its director.
About 800 people were dead, and most remained unidentified. They were decomposing fast in the high humidity and heat, and Pathirana said they would be in the ground by Tuesday – meaning the living and the dead may never be reunited, even briefly.