tsunami experience


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God, I can't even start to comprehend what it must of been like. It sounds really bad specially not being able to save other people. Good to hear your ok and keep us updated ok (Y)?

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I can't even imagine what it must be like to go through an experiance like that. I kinda feel guilty having all these wonderful things around me. Computers, internet, games, etc.

I guess it'd be kinda morbid to have thousands of bodies around.

Holy crap, just heard that it is at 180,000

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good feedback so far (Y)(Y) good to see.

thats an amazing story, and i read every word. scary stuff man. i donated $15, sorry but thats all i can afford on my budget. I think it would be kinda cool to have my town turned into a swimming pool, but i would miss my computer :(

the hard part is over, its good you survived, now its time to rebuild.. hope you meet your parents soon (Y) good luck.

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The following is an email from my Wife's cousin's brother in law.

This is his account of his experience while in Phuket Island, Thailand.

This has also been printed in The Seattle Times Newspaper.


Robert Stenehjem grew up in West Seattle and graduated from West Seattle High School in 1965. He is a merchant seaman who was on vacation on Phuket Island in Thailand this week when the tsunami hit. Here are excerpts from his e-mails to friends.

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004

The weirdest thing just happened. I was eating breakfast at a restaurant about a block from the beach. I was about halfway through when I noticed a major exodus from the beach area, a major traffic flow of bikes going full speed ahead and cars also.

Then everybody in the restaurant ran out and I was alone with one panic-stricken waitress, who in broken English said, "Leave now. Big wave coming."

I remembered what happened in Hilo in 1960 when people were warned of a big tsunami and everyone went to the beach for a looky-loo and several hundred people were killed.

So here I am at high ground, and the owner of this Internet cafe left me in charge. Nobody here anyway, and he went to even higher ground to see what he could see.

There has been about a dozen police and emergency vehicles screaming towards the beach. It's a party-like situation right now as people are everywhere on the streets.

The owner just came back in major panic and said water was rushing up the street. More later, as I'm heading out to watch.

Sunday, 26 Dec. 2004, three hours later

Wow, this is unbelievable. This island has been wiped out. It's only divine intervention that I'm alive. I was on my way to my favorite restaurant on Kata beach, but on the way I went by this other one I really like and stopped there instead. Well, the one I was on the way to was totally wiped out.

There is mass destruction at all the beaches, overturned cars. All hotels and businesses on the beach and for a block away are totally wiped out. There are cars overturned with motorcycles stuck under them.

Not sure how many dead. The news is sporadic. I watched a little but it's in Thai.

Ko Pepe and Ko Lanta were wiped out. I was going to both on Thursday. Now not even sure if the hotel I booked is standing as it's right on the water. I went to my travel agent, who I've known for years, and her shop is totally destroyed. I am praying she is OK.

Have to run as I am close to beach and police just came by with loud speakers saying another is coming at 3 p.m. It's now 2:30.

I'm out of here. More later.

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004, three hours later

If anybody has heard any news of this let me know what you heard. The rumors here are changing hourly.

I've heard 21 people dead here on the two beaches closest to me, Kata and Karon, and then I heard over 100 at Patong Bach. The road over there has been closed today, but I have seen total destruction at the three beaches I saw today.

I'm sure some people at the restaurant I was going to eat at must be dead. It's totally destroyed. And where I always sat was in the front row on the beach. When I went there about two hours after the water, I didn't see anybody that works there, so I have a bad feeling about it.

One guy I talked to was on Kata Beach when it hit. He said all of a sudden all the water left the bay, and all the boats --maybe 40 -- all laid over on their sides as all the water was gone. This guy knew what was coming and he grabbed his wife and ran like hell for the hill behind the restaurant. He was freaked out when I talked to him. His hotel was destroyed as are all the hotels on the beaches and that's many, many. I don't know where all these displaced people will go.

Most everything is closed, but a lot of bars are open.

There was supposed to be another wave, and everybody was on high ground at the great lookout spots waiting. I waited three hours and gave up.

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004, six hours later

It's late here after a very stressful day. I went to the Patong Beach hospital about five miles away to meet some friends. It was the worst damage on the island with many dead. I went to the rear of the complex and noticed a ambulance where they were loading two bodies. I walked into the hospital and there was 30 to 40 bodies on the floor with nothing covering them up. It was quite a shock to say the least.

So I went back out to wait for my friends to show. We found a restaurant open, and they had CNN in English on TV. They said 168 dead in Thailand. Well, I have seen at least 80, and a medical person at the hospital said bodies were sucked out to sea and will be washing up for days.

People are walking around like zombies, myself included. I hope I can sleep as the visions from the hospital are very haunting.

I'm not sure what to do now. Wait for more info and for the phones to start working. I'm praying for no more aftershocks with tsunamis.

I actually feel very blessed as Buddha was definitely watching over me today.

Monday morning, Dec. 27, 2004

There are several of my friends unaccounted for. One friend was on a diving trip, and he is one of the 40 divers missing. Doesn't look good.

Monday night, 27 Dec. 2004

Tonight I went to Patong again. It's the largest beach and shopping area and where the largest group of tourists are. It's about a mile long and four blocks deep and full of big stores and small shops. Big hotels. The Sheraton and everything -- and I mean everything -- is destroyed.

There must have been 40 to 50 cars pushed through hotel lobbies, into department stores, piled up on top of boats, motorcycles and refrigerators.

The road has four to six inches of sand all the way back three blocks. There are huge 120-foot boats up by the street and several smaller 30- to 40-footers on the road.

That's where 100 or maybe even 300 to 400 people were killed. In the nine years I've been coming here I've never seen less than 200 to 300 people walking on the street.

The water surged up for four blocks about three meters high. I really can't believe anyone who was on that street survived.

I went to the Patong hospital with a friend from South Africa, and we went in and asked if there were any foreigners we could help in any way. The nurses were very glad we came.

We visited about six rooms and heard some scary --and very sad -- stories.

The first room we went in was a young Swedish man with a major cut all the way down his leg. His Thai wife was sitting next to him with a large bandage on her chin. We asked him how he was doing, and he said that this was nothing because they had lost their 3-month-old daughter. Just washed away. The woman just started crying uncontrollably. It was heart wrenching. We gave them a hug, and they were very appreciative that we came by.

Next we visited a couple from Germany who were swimming in Kamala Bay, north of Patong. They both got smashed up on the beach and then dragged way out and lost sight of each other. His legs were really mangled up from the coral and she had two black eyes and hands all cut up. They were washed out at 10 a.m., and it wasn't until 10 p.m. that she found him in the hospital. She saw his name posted outside in the tent set up for people looking for family and friends. They both started crying when they were telling the story. They hadn't really talked to anyone as she was staying at the hospital with him. Their hotel was without power.

The next room was a black man and his wife from Norway. They were in a bar across the street from Patong Beach, way back in a hotel lobby when the huge wave roared through. She was slammed into something --not sure what -- and got 45 stitches on the right cheek of her bum and down her leg. She was standing as she said she could not sit down.

He was bruised all over. He said there was a man sitting next to him in the bar and when the water hit the man got caught between the bar and a big beach chair. The man was screaming for help and had his arms around his wife and a pole. Then the water sucked out and the black man never saw that guy again.

People were sucked out into the ocean screaming for help and being slammed by cars, boats, etc.

I heard today the death toll in Patong alone is close to 1,800, but it's only rumors.

Tomorrow my South African friend and I are going to a different hospital in Phuket town, where the nurse said there were many many foreigners who would appreciate a visitor.

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Thats crazy, are you alright?

How bad are you injuries?

I can't even begin to imagine what that must have been like...keep in touch with us, and try and stay safe, appearantly (according to my father) that mines (thats right land mines) buried really deep in the ground (from years and years of dirt pile up etc) and the tsunami took off all the dirt so now land mines are still active and are laying around everywhere so watch where you step, the damage isnt quite over yet.

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This was the second email, this was Not printed in the newspaper, we have not recieved anymore email from him since.


> -----Original Message-----

> From: *****@*****.com

> Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 8:50 AM

> Subject: tsunami update


> Greetings, I had a very rewarding but VERY sad day today. At the Patong hospital last night they said there was allot of injured farangs, Foreigners, at the ra chai, its misspelled, so I went to go there on my motorbike but I passed the Bangkok Phuket International Hospital and decided to pull in there to see if they needed any help. Its a huge new very modern place. Anyway the lobby was chaos. I just went up to a long table full of phones and people and asked what they needed. I had planned on just visiting farangs,but they looked majorly overwhelmed. The lady asked what languages I spoke and told her a little Spanish fairly good American sign language and English. She said sit right here and answer phones. I had a list of, I counted 575 people who were injured. They were listed by country and also a list of the missing 100's,also a whole wall full of photos of entire families ,people from all over the world are missing and most likely dead. The list of the dead at that hospital was at another table. So I answered the phone a few times and looked up names of the people they were looking for. Out of about 6 calls in 2 hours none of the people they were looking for where there. I gave them numbers of about 6-7 other hospitals. I met 4 or 5 other volunteers at my table, a man from Germany, a Swiss woman ,an English woman., a Swedish man. Then 2 men from, one from the Kuwait consulate office in Bangkok, and another from Bahrain. They were looking for anybody from there countries. They didn't know where all the hospitals where, so I told them I was going to the Patong Hospital at 6:30 to meet my South African friend and I would check the list of patients and there huge list of dead for any of there countryman. He was very grateful and gave me his cell #.There wasn't any at Patong but there is about 65 unknown dead. the list of the dead there was 160 names and there countries listed. Only 2 Americans and 5 Canadians and most from Europe also may Thais.Ok back to the 1st hospital. Everybody has to bear with me as I am sooooo tired and burnt out from the last few days. So there will be many misspellings and the story will ramble all over the place,SORRY.So I was getting bored after 2 hours as not many people were calling. So I noticed a woman in her mid 30's who had been sitting close with 3 kids, in there teens, one daughter was in a wheel chair with a very bloody, and puss, bandage on a large leg wound. She was pacing around and was freaking out I could tell. Then she came up to the table and sort of lost it. Screaming she needed someone to change the bandages on her daughters leg. Then a hospital woman said she still had to deal with her consular. Then she freaked out BIG time. So I got up and asked her to sit down with me and explain exactly what she needed. She said she was Swedish but her children were English and when the whole family was washed out to sea, about a 2 hour drive north of Puket near Koh Lak Park but on the ocean. Her husband had drowned, they found his body last night. They were staying on the beach in a bungalow that was sucked out to sea. They only had the cloths on they're > backs. She said the Swedish people were telling her she had to deal with the English her daughter needed help and nobody would help. I calmed her down and got her some ice water and told her to sit here with you kids and I would do her Yelling for her and she needed to stay calm. So there was a embassy phone list and I called the English consulate and told them the story. They sent a very nice woman from the office in Bangkok who was at another hospital right over. She was VERY helpful and would take care of ALL the passport issues for both countries. So that made my day right there. I t was still so very sad as her kids were had the thousand yard stare. In major shock. So then I went back to my table and looked at the patient list and wrote down a bunch of room 3's to > see what any of them needed. The first room I went into was a Russian couple and they said they had been in contact with home but thanked me anyway. Next room I knocked on had a woman laying in bed and a daughter on a co, all bandaged up and a son in a cast on another bed. They were from Norway and it was the girls 13th birthday. So I asked them where they had been, Kamala Bay north of Patting walking on the beach when they were slammed up on the rocks and then dragged out to sea. They still have not found their father. Mom started crying but neither children did. They looked numb. They had 2 family members arriving tonight to take them home. I had seen a pizza place close by on the way in, so I asked if they would like one. The B'day girl smiled. So I went and got them a big pizza ,really cheap here. I ate it with them. Then I went down the hall to another room. I knocked and there was 4 people in there. They were from Switzerland. Dad and mom were in there 70's and their son and his wife were maybe in their 40s. The younger wife was the worst hurt. She had surgery in her legs, her husband was bandaged up, and bruised as was Mom and dad. They were eating breakfast a block off of Patong beach when the 1st wave hit and shoved them thru the restaurant into the street. Then they were dragged down the st. when it sucked out and then the BIG one came in. They were all split up and were swimming and trying to grab onto anything. The older man grabbed something but was being shocked by some electric wires. He still held on and mom grabbed him. Their children were slammed about a block down the street banging into floating cars and motor bikes. The son saw a long tail, traditional Thai boat, there are some smashed on the beaches in my photos, and he jumped onto it and floated off. When the water receded they all found each other and they carried the daughter down the street and waited for help. An American dr. drove up in a huge jeep and took them to the hospital in Patong but way to many people there so he took them to Phuket town, Bangkok Phuket Hosp.I asked what they need .The hotel they were staying in The Swiss Palm Resort was Just meters from the beach and they weren't able to call as all the power in that whole area is still off. All there passports and $ was in a safe in there room, which luckily was on the 2nd floor. I told them I was going to meet a friend at the Patong hosp. at 6:30 so I would go and check it out for the. I found it and it was in the MAJOR damage zone. They had a guard at the makeshift gate, there was several overturned cars in the grounds, plus furniture etc.Totally full of junk. The woman I talked to was a German woman who owned one of the units. When I explained what I wanted to know she was very helpful. All the safes were taken and put in one room with a guard in front. We called the hospital on her cell and they were very glad to know all they stuff was ok.While there a camera man came in filming e the destruction, and Claudia asked where he was from, some TV station in Athens. T> here are now news people all over filming the carnage. So now I have to meet my buddy at the Patong hospital. There's a huge tent set up with 100's of phones to call anywhere in the world for free.I saw several of my friends manning the incoming phones. Then a young couple, from Germany came up to me and asked if I knew where they could help out. They were in pre med and had just flown in from Germany and had not even found a room yet and the first place they went was to help. And I'm sure they had a Long flight over. I suggested Phuket International as I heard earlier they need blood badly but people were showing up and they didn't have enough trained people to draw blood. They said they could do that ,so I got them the address and hailed them a tuk tuk,and off they were. I guess disasters bring out the best in people and I saw it all day. Even on the beaches I drove by, there were only a few tourists laying in the sun I saw 40-50 tourists picking up the carnage and making piles of broken up furniture and destroyed > long tail boats. There tourists on the streets collecting money and any cloths, see I'm losing it. I mean what you wear, I can't even spell clothes??? It's time for me to eat and go to bed. Its 11:30pm.But there is so much more to tell just about the rest of the night but it will have to wait till morning. I fly out to Bangkok on Thursday, now I almost wish I was staying as these people in the hospitals were SO glad just to talk with someone. I gave out my card to most of them and I think I have some email friends for life. Pop Gun My, Bob...That means adios in Thai.


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Man, what a story - glad to hear you got through it.

My thoughts are with those that were not so lucky.

I hope the money my family and I have donated can help with this tragedy in some small way :(

Mark - In the UK

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damn, didnt know it was that bad here in Malaysia :( which part of the west coast are you in? Nothing felt here at all in east Malaysia,where i am , thank god :pinch:

very very glad that ur still alive

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yo man...i'm so shocked to know this experinces....and wut happened from the person ......who have it actually...actually that day i also at penang...but mayb god..give me a nice treatment..and i very appreciate for it ..... i was sleeping at my dad house..after so tired...eating breakfast and din go to the beach place there..if not..i would dead with my family...but after heard this sad news...i never happy becos...so many ppl dead.... ..my father frend lost his wife and daugther...this tragedy was...a trulyworst for us all man....i pray to god....that this would be stop faster...so that everybody could have a normal life.....

i have donated rm100 to those who needed..i hope any member who afford it would help also...take k

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so tragic... seeing events like that with your own eyes. You learn to appreciate the life you have now considering we North Americans have to be very grateful for what we have.

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