Ten years after 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Thailand still remembers

World Today

It’s been nearly a decade since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami battered South and Southeast Asia, killing more than 250,000 people. Along Thailand’s coast, 5,000 people were killed in six provinces, including about 2,000 tourists. CCTV’s Tony Cheng reported this story from Khao Lak in southern Thailand.

Ten years after 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Thailand still remembers

It's been nearly a decade since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami battered South and Southeast Asia, killing more than 250,000 people. Along Thailand's coast, 5,000 people were killed in six provinces, including about 2,000 tourists.

The tsunami caught everyone in Thailand by surprise. No provisions had been made for such an act of nature, which was unheard of along the country’s low-lying coast. The wave flattened nearly all buildings, and few knew how to escape its path.

Ten years ago, Malika Chergui was visiting the island of Phuket from Italy. As a witness to the devastation, she volunteered to help in relief efforts. Today, she’s a volunteer policewoman, and one of the first responders when a tsunami drill sounds.

Phuket authorities have developed a video that reassures tourists they will be safe if another tsunami hits the island.

“I’m 90 percent confident that we will be able to keep things under control from our experiences with the tsunami drills,” Ekkarat Pakdeemai, of the Phuket Rescue Service said.

Tsunami warning towers along Phuket’s beaches give a strong audio signal when a tsunami is detected. However with 10,000 tourists in the area, there is very little time to reach higher ground. Many have also forgotten evacuation drills and routes as the years have passed.

But for some, memories of that tragic day are still fresh.