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That was a big one I hope everybody in here is okay!


  • What tsunami? I haven't seen the news.:o
  • http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/26/asia.quake/index.html

    One of the hardest hit regions was the island of Phuket and one of my friends had just told me he would go there for Christmas, haven't heard of him yet (obviously as he's got better things to do now that sit in an internet caffe and answer emails)
  • What tsunami? I haven't seen the news.:o
    SBS has picked up the BBC World feed.

    Looks pretty huge :(
  • at least 6.500 died.:(
  • Bloody big shake that, 8.9!!! Epicentre was near the Indo island of Aceh I believe. There was another big shake south of New Zealand last week that hit 8.1 on the scale.

    The 5.5 shake we had in Newcastle in '89 was big enough, luckily these didn't occur 'on land' in the middle of heavily populated areas.
  • now 20,000 confirmed dead.

    Heartfelt sympathies to all of the victms families.

    Iv just seen footage of the tsunami, my jaw dropped....
  • 50,000 now
  • we can't even imagine how big this was!

  • 68,000 at last estimate.
    This is a catastrophe for the towns involved and for countless families.

    Only member I know who was there is FactyCrab.
    I understand he got his wife and baby girl out then got caught by the second bigger wave.

    He's OK after treatment for injuries and should now be back home. He'll have a story to tell, when he's able to.

  • Hi all,

    I have been out of action for a few days after X'mas as we were in Phuket (Thailand) and had experienced the awesome Tsunami tidal waves and fortunately came out of it alive, bar some bad cuts and bruises on my body.

    Preambles - My wife, Nozie and I had decided to take a short break from work taking advantage of the holidays to give our little daughter, Aaliyah a chance to savour a plane ride and the beach as she is into the age of curiosity having turned one year and five months a week before.

    We decided to take the low budget room available on the island at Siam's Place at the Kamala Beach as the hotel is one of many along the beach right at the sea where gentle rolling waves lap the pristine sand a few feet from where we breakfast each morning. There was one hotel which we liked at Kata Beach sited a little way up on the hills but the room rates were prohibitive.

    We discovered upon arriving at Phuket on the afternoon of the 23rd that the Kamala district is populated by mainly local Muslims, some 85% of them are Muslims and we were surprised to learn that 70% of the island of Phuket's population are Muslims. So, it wasn't surprising that the owner and chef at Siam's Place, named Siam and his family who runs the hotel are Muslims. We settled down pretty quickly and got into the routine of a swim in the sea, bathe, eat, then a swim again and play on the beach with our little daughter, bathe and eat once again.

    On the 24th we hired an easy rider type motorcycle as no low budget Suzuki jeep was available and toured the beaches immediately south of Kamala at Patong and Karon. These beaches are the favourites of most Europeans and are very very busy. Thousands of deck chairs lined each of the 3 km of fine beaches at Patong and Karon. At Karon we took the opportunity to visit our American friend Tom Notaro who has lived on the island in the past 10 years. We also had an elephant ride up in the hills between the two beaches that day before returning for dinner at Siam's.

    On X'mas day, we hired a Suzuki jeep to tour the island as I wanted to see Phromtep Cape at the southern tip of the island and do a little shopping at Phuket town. It was an eventful day as we saw the most beautiful view point from the cape and Aaliyah had encounters with seahawks and eagles at Phromtep. That night, even though tired, we took in what is billed as the greatest illusion/cultural extravaganza show in the east, at the Phuket Fantasea just 300 meters from our hotel. We cancelled our plans to visit Phi Phi island scheduled for the next day.

    8.00am - Boxing day, the 26th Sunday of December, we woke up on this fateful day early and breakfast as usual just yards from the beach. After breakfast I went back to the room to crap and as it turned out I did a short stint that morning as opposed to my usual 15 minutes on the 'throne'.

    When I headed out to the beach, Nozie and the locals were laughing and wondering in amazement why the water receded so far back and suddenly the sea was returning to us again...I immediately sensed someting was not right (even though I had never heard of Tsunamis then) and insisted that we go back to pack and be ready for any emergency. The locals were removing deck chairs from the advancing tides as we went back to the room with our daughter Aaliyah. I started packing in a hurry but I haven't been in the room 5 seconds and Nozie screamed from outside that the water was coming towards the room. I just grabbed the biggest bag we have and rushed out grabbing Nozie by the hand with her carrying Aaliyah acrossed the road. The water was roaring towards us and we scaled the back wall of the house acrossed the road and got over to the other side. A european mother screamed for help as she couldn't scale the wall with her little daughter in her arms. I shouted at Nozie to go, go, go and I turned around to help her. The wall held as I got her daughter over when the water was waist deep on the other side and she also scrampered over safely.

    Across the former rice field which we ran is the Fantasea complex where we were the previous night. I left Nozie and Aaliyah on the main road outside Fantasea and told her I was going back to get the rucksack which our three passports were kept as well as my precious laptop...I really needed the laptop which hard-disk packed with 60 Gigabytes of precious data must by salvaged even though the laptop would be useless by now. Nozie begged me not to go but I did, which regretably, I realised later that she was so right.

    I got back to our room along with scores of others tourists and many more locals. Some even started clearing and cleaning up the devastation that the tidal wave, which by now has receded, has left behind. I couldn't open my room door as the room was neck hign with water and outside was then calf deep. I decided to break the window to let some of the water out and the water in the room, of course, got down to below the window level and stayed there. With a few mighty heaves, I managed to forced gaps through the door to let more water out...this cost me a couple of precious minutes but eventually found the laptop and the passport bag lodged ib between a table and the tumbled over wardrobe. Just then I heard huge screams outside my room coming from every where. I bolted out and immediately saw a huge 20 feet (6 meters) wave upon me. I stubbornly clung-on to my passport bag with one land and the laptop with the other hand and kicked upwards. A beach umbrella dislodged my bag from my right shoulder and debris comprising tree trunks, motorbikes and timber planks were all around me travelling at speed towards the walls we scaled on the other side of the beach road. I decided to let go of the laptop as I needed both hands to protect my head and to swim upwards for air to stay alive. I decided that this has to be the day that I would die and I prayed to be allowed a postponement. Along with all the debris we reached the back walls of the houses across the road and I managed to stand up on a wall...I was going to jump for the roof of the house but decided against it as the walls next to me started to crumble from the force of the rushing water...I jumped to the otherside instead and decided to swim with the in-rushing sea and avoid being hit on my head by anything at any costs...I just used my arms and my legs to ward off all rushing debris while not struggling against the flow of the water and kept my head up above the water. The tidal wave was travelling around 15 mph, I estimate and I was soon upon the vicinity where I left my beloved wife and daughter before I went back on this stupid mission. I glanced over where I left them but there was only water. I then saw a coconut tree about a hundred meters from where I was flowing towards with debris all around the tree...i aimed for that tree and managed to grab the debris around it and climbed up towards the trunck and clung on to it for dear life. I tried to climb up the trunk a few feet to see how difficult it is in case the swell of the waves grow...man, was it difficuly! I was utterly exhausted by then and realised I must let my muscles regenerate with more oxygen replenishment before I can summon more efforts. I rested for a minute as the rate of flow subsided and surveyed how the flow was reversing with the debris as I didn't want to be washed all the way back to the sea.

    Another minute past and it was time to jump off my 'coconut tree island'...I did that and swam diagonally along with the backwash towards the external mainroad outside Fantasea where I left Nozie and Aaliyah. People were emerging again and that road was now only ankle deep with water. I stood on the exact spot where I left them and looked around for another whole minute...surveying for any clues that they might not have left in time, hope God no...please let me know they left this spot before the second tidal wave hit...there was no sign of the big bag we salvaged on our first escape, so this must be good news I said. I surveyed my injuries and saw a huge cut with some foreign body in the sole of my left foot and a bad cut across my right knee...both my legs, hands and shoulders suffered bad abrasions and wood burns...otherwise I can still walk and move around.

    As the locals and tourists were dredging through the mud to look for their friends and relatives I couldn't help looking at every body they find...I enquired with the temporary first aid station at Fantasea if they saw a small lady in a blue teeshirt with a small baby and was told yes, the woman suffered fracture in one leg and was sent to the hospital at Patong but the baby was at their centre near the entrance. I trugged to the center but found the 'baby' was at least 3 years old and it wasn't Aaliyah...I went back into the former rice field and looked if she might be there, I went further up the road where the locals were helping the injured to the first aid centre and asked them, I called out "Nozie, Nozie..." a hundred times...but there was no Nozie.

    I was bleeding badly but didn't feel any pain whatsoever...a Fantasea staff noticed my bad bleeding from the sole and insisted that I get first aid. He took me there on his bike and the doctor fixed my wound by pulling out a glass piece and wrapped up my foot after cleaning it. I decided to go up the hills to see if my family has gone there along with a huge number of others as the provincial government has insisted that every person MUST evacuate the low areas and move upwards as more aftershocks are comimg and would bring larger waves.

    11.00am - By now it was 11 am as I glanced at the watch which I wear all the time. The first wave hit us at around 9.30am and the second probably about 10 minutes after. I took out the sim card from my mobile phone which of course no longer worked and looked for someone who would let me use their phone to call Kuala Lumpur, hoping that if my wife survived she would no doubt do the same with someone else's phone, except that she doesn't have her phone with her and most Thais in phuket don't subscribe to international dialing service. I asked the first person, an employee of Fantasea who is amongst the many from this entertainment resort that have turned out as volunteers helping all in relief work, he readily took his own sim card out and inserted mine in and I called Alex, my son, in Kuala Lumpur.

    I got through on the second try even though the service were all jammed up, this has got to be a good sign...Alex said "Dad! you are OK!", I said, "Yah, thank God, did you hear? Did Nozie called?", he replied, "Yes, she and Aaliyah are saved and it's in the news.", I trembled, "Thank God, thank God...". Alex said she's up in the hills with many others and I told him where I was and that I was going to go up the hill to look for her and to please ask her which hill she's in and what location and if she can come down half way to meet me...

    A couple of locals helped me up a motorbike and took me to the foothill of Kamala Puri (Mt. Kamala) and we dismounted and walked with the others up the hill...each time I struggled, they would lend their shoulders for me to hop-alomg...my foot was bleeding again and the dressing has soaked through with blood visibly dripping out. We got past about half a km uphill and I was exhausted and had to rest. These two good souls helped to change the dressing with a face towel after washing out the wound which has filled with earth and sand, gave me drinks and others who passed by offered food. I called out for Nozie every 20 meters or so and kept asking those who pass us to please locate her and inform her where I was...

    We managed another half a km up after a brief rest and one said the top where most of the big groups are gathered are is not far...but I was completely drained and they say I shouldn't move any more...that I got to go to the hospital, I suggested that I would rest here and can they go upwards in each of the two hills, to look for her? They handed me over to some other Thais who looked after me...got my wound washed and waited for medics to arrive and dressed my foot up again. I couldn't bear to look at my wound as it was 3 inches across and rather deep...it has turned dark brownish and black with the blood mixed with the mud and sand that didn't get out from the cleaning. The medics got to me and they had the same doctor who treated me the first time and he cleaned the wound the best he could and wow, it now hurts, badly hurts...which I supposed it's normal now that I had depleted all my adrenaline. The doc insisted I have to go down by another route to the otherside of Fantasea where there are transport waiting to evacuate those injured to hospitals in Thalang and Phuket town via a safe route around the hills. I resisted, but they were tough cookies and they wanted to manhandle me down...telling me that I could lose my foot (exaggerating, I was sure) if I didn't do as they said. I pleaded for one more call before I go...I used the phone of another Fantasea staff and called Alex. He told me that Nozie now knows about me being alive and she was going to go down to look for me half way down. Half an hour later no sign of Nozie and my foot bleeding just wouldn't stop and they were too concerned for my well being and hauled me downhill to their waiting van, constantly assuring me that she and my baby are safe and there's no need to worry...but you would all understand the natural need to reunite after such a harrowing and traumatic experience.

    1.00pm - As we were driving to the Thalang hospital, I saw scores of pick-ups, vans and ambulances going our way...the bodies, alive or not laden apparently in the pick-ups and the roadsides had many tourists sitting dazed with locals attending to them. At the hospital, the emergency rooms were used for those victims which needed resuscitation and for serious cases like concussions and fractures. I was ushered to the left of the main entrance at the pharmacy waiting area, which had been converted into a treatment centre for less serious cases. It being a Sunday, we could see most of the medical staff were called back to duty...there were at least 6 doctors and 20 nursing staff on each side treating casualties. The turn for me to be attended to came pretty quickly...my wound was properly washed and cleaned this time but the doctor ordered for a X'ray of my foot to see if any more foreign bodies are in it. The queue for X'ray was long and when my turn came, there were new arrivals that needed urgent attention...children with broken arms, a swiss who lost his girlfriend and he was pretty bashed up on his face and eyes...I made way. Eventuall my turn came and everthing was OK for a stitch up job.

    4.00pm - Wow, was the stitching painful, it was excruciatingly intolerable and I had to scream at least once to let it out of my system due to my thick skin on my sole and the huge concentration of nerve cells terminating in the surfaces of the soles and hands of homo-sapiens. The stitching seemed to take an eternity but was done eventually...and I yearn for my wife and daughter again. Called our communication centre (which is Alex) again and told him where I was and whether if Nozie calls again, she can come to the Thalang hospital. Got a pair of crutches, courtesy of the hospital got the anti-tetanus jab, antibiotics and pain killer and food and drinks also courtesy of the Thai government and hospital. I tell you, these Thais are fantastic people, they don't ask for anything...identification papers, personal details...they treat everyone without any more formality of your name to be given...locals and foreigners alike, they are treated by the staff of the hospital as if we are their families.

    7.00pm - Still no sign of Nozie. Oh well, I presumed, she may not have a safe route out of where she and the baby are...afterall more aftershocks keep coming. The hospital was sending all the foreign casualties to the 5-star Pacific International hotel at Thalang and I hopped onto the next bus at just past 7pm. We made the police report of lost items at the police station on the way to the hotel. After a shower and some rest, I called Alex again to check what's the status of Nozie, to which he said he has lost communications, probably due to handphones running out of batteries. Turned to the TV set which has BBC world wide service and stayed on this channel for the whole night. The damages and loss of human lives were immense as we all now know. Drifted in and out of sleep, feverish and chill alternatingly...woke up every now and then worrying about Nozie and Aaliyah mostly. Also wondered briefly about the US200 a night hotel bill (versus the US$25 a night which I pay in Siam's Place) that I had no money with me and when can we get the travel papers from malaysia's Consul General who has called me while at the Thalang hospital...

    5.00am - It's now Monday, the 27th of December. I was jolted awake by the shrill of the telephone. "Your call sir," the operator said. It was Nozie!! She cried when she heared my voice...she's in Phuket town at the government office. She took a ride out at 4.00am with a Thai after staying all night at Mt. Naka (not Mt. Kamala). She was very well looked after by Lin, her masseus friend she befriended when we arrived. Lin and her husband helped her flee the second wave, snatched her from the road and in two motorcycles carring her, Aaliyah and the bag against her wishes fleeing from the second wave which Nozie saw crashing down onto where I was at Siam's Place - and they took her and Aaliyah half way up Mt. Kamala to where their house is...Nozie didn't think I could have survived that huge wave...stored the bag and collected food stuffs and other neccessities before going higher. They slept in the open air and Lin made fire to ward off the mosquitoes and the snakes. Aaliyah has slept soundly without needing the mother's tits. They wouldn't let her travel till it was absolutely safe and now she's in Phuket town all the way south of Kamala while I'm north of Kamala halfway to the airport. She'll come to me immediately.

    7.00am - After a bus journey and a motorcycle ride with baby Aaliyah and the huge bag, Nozie, Aaliyah and I were reunited. For the first time we really can feel that we are all alive and well bar a few bruises. Life is so fragile as shown by the 60,000 deaths and climbing...to survive all this it must have a special meaning that my God, your God, the same God has sent to us.

    Sign-Off - We like to thank the entire people of Phuket, the government of Thailand, the Thalang Hospital, the Pacific International Thalang who gave us a 50% discount to all charges, the Malaysian Consul General at Songkhla, Tuan Azizan Ismail who issued us the temporary certificate of identity so promptly at our hotel personally in Thalang on Monday, Siam's Place who treated us like their family, our dear friend Lin who helped my wife and baby child escape certain deaths, the Malaysian entrepreneur in Phuket Mr. Valentino Tan and his nephew/staff Mr. Yap Swee Hong who personally make our departure so comfortable...and may all of you who are destined to stay on in Phuket needing to pick up the pieces to start over again that God gives you strength.

    Finally NO-THANKS to Air Asia who wouldn't allow us to use our return ticket without paying a surcharge/buying a new return ticket for not being able to travel for lack of travel documents and who didn't let us board the 7am flight which was delayed to 2pm while we checked in for our 1.30pm flight at 12 noon resulting us needing to stay on at the airport till our flight left at a very delayed time of 8pm (without periodical information so that passengers could find a hotel room nearby to rest) and whose offer of the use of a wheelchair at KLIA came with a demand of RM12 without any prior notice. This would be the last time I'll be travelling Air Asia and if any of you guys who need to make schedules stick better think of other airlines which are more compassionate.

    If you had read all that above, I hope you will all value the lives that God gave us, lives which can so easily be snuffed out by the wrath of nature that He creates.

    If you had just scrolled down to here, please give me a few more days to recoup (as without the adrenaline and the pain killers, every part of my body seem to hurt so badly now and my mind needs to regroup) not to mention the email addresses and database I need to reasemble in this desk top in my office to continue doing my work.

    Our very sincerest wishes to you and your families for a safe and healthy new year for 2005!

    Hanifah Yoong (Yin Fah), Nozie Sulaiman and Aaliyah Yoong

    Wednesday, 29th December, 2004.

    P.S. A very happy birthday to my dear ex-wife, Joanna Yoong-Castleman and may God bless her, her husband John and our children, Alex, Arianna, Alister and Pipa and Andrew.

  • Holy shit! Thank god you're alive! Unbelievable.....

    (Yoong...? Figures)
  • Hanifah, thank God you and your family are alive. It is hard for us to imagine what you've been through but your account is terrifying.

    With best wishes from London, Simon.

  • What a story! Thanks god you're okay
    I guess we all can't imagine the magnitude of such an event!
  • Great that you're ok, that must have been awful mate. :(

    Yeah Clown, I feel awful all of a sudden for all the shit I hung on AY. Couldn't someone in the know have emailed me or something? :angel:
  • all the shit I hung on AY.
    I didn't :cool:

    [Edited on 29/12/2004 by Clown]
  • btw, I haven't seen any footage of the second wave anywhere, just the first wave that frankly didn't look all that bad and judging from Hanifah's account, wasn't that destructive - hell, people went back to clean up!

    I was wondering how all the people died after watching the footage, now I understand it wasn't the first wave that really did it. :o
  • ]I didn't :cool:

    How 'convenient' for you, you weren't here in 2002, :spank:

  • What a hell of a story, Facty! Something you don't wish even to your worst enemy!
    My felicitations for you, your wife and your baby and try to get over it soon. Hope your baby did not realize what was happening.

    Happy new year
  • thank you facty, best wishes for you and your family

    p.s. what's a laptop?
  • The portable computer Salvo, manco 'e bbasi der mestiere......:spank::spank:
  • I thought it was something like lap dance:P;);):hehe:

    Manlio, when are you leaving????

  • Tomorrow lunchtime, will be back to Cairo on January 2 in the evening.
  • BTW: Facty, I feel for you losing the 60gb of data. A 40gb unit recently died on me, annoying as hell, but my stuff is mainly crap. I can't imagine how devestating it would be to lose that much work data. Atleast you're alive, and that helps put it in perspective, but nonetheless, what a drag.
  • my stuff is mainly crap.
    In the dictionary, go to the definition of 'truth'. I swear, there's a picture of Clown and that line. :hehe:
  • "Pound salt"
  • thanks guys...

    no offence was ever taken...just thought that if you knew who i was in 02, you guys may not visit dear robert's fantastic site...

    had tried to be objective most times and had preserved the trust people placed in me...hope my occasional outbursts didn't step on anyone's toes too badly...

    the experience was both terrifying and calming at the same time...pity it has to take something like this to make us appreciate the various perspectives of being alive...

    may the team, the site and all of us having a real good new year.
  • My best mate said he might be going to India for christmas. Haven't heard from him since. I hope he wasn't where the waves hit.
  • Facty - gald you are in one peice. I am way up in the mountains - as far away from the f'n ocean as possible ! No access to my email list so all I got was word of mouth until now...y6oiu better buy a lottery ticket on your way to church!.

  • What an experience and story to match!

    So many just didn't have a chance.
    Amazing stories coming out of people trying to help one another, despite incredible odds.

    Facty, being a strong swimmer, diver and survivor must have made the difference between life and death. Respect man!

    From our position in England, we heard the news at 8.00am on the BBC, then checked news sites and emails where we saw your email that you were in Phuket (before the waves).
    We called Alex who said you had got Nozie and little Aaliyah to safety then gone back and got hit by the second wave.

    He had also heard from Nozie that she and Aaliyah were OK but separated from you and that you had been taken to hospital for stitches.

    Ironic how we could comminucate around the world but in the disaster area, where people most need to communicate, everything is lost and you're down to real basics - moving by foot and word of mouth.

    The same with warnings!
    The Tsunami warning centre was trying desperatley to warn people but the emergency services networks weren't in place.

    All those signs, record fishing catches the days before, the seismic shocks rcorded from the earthquake, the sea-water ebbing out before the wave, even the line of foam on the horizon.

    After reading stories of Tsunamis as a kid, I used to watch the horizon and practive running up the beach to high ground.

    Man, I can picture you hanging on to a palm tree with one hand and your precious laptop with water pouring out in the other hand. ;)

    Hope to see you around soon!


    [Edited on 30/12/2004 by Dr_Spin]
  • Doc - away from home base so I don't have contact info - best to you and yours - fifif escaped this time but between you and me we will get that Tsunami machine invention working!

    RJ sorted me on your whereabouts...

    good to have all of you ferigners alive.
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