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Thailand remembers the 16th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami




It was Boxing Day, now 16 years distant, when the Andaman Coast of Thailand, and coastlines around the Indian Ocean, suffered one of nature’s most disastrous events of our generation.

The tsunami reached Phuket and provinces nearby around 10am on Boxing Day, December 26, 2004, and caused uncountable losses. Official Thai government statistics estimate 4,812 souls were lost to the waves on December 26, 2004, with another 8,457 injured and 4,499missing, presumed dead, all lost to the 3 large waves that swept inland along parts of the Andaman Coast.

While confirmed deaths in Phuket officially numbered only 259, another 700 remained listed as missing.

Up to 270,000 souls from 45 countries around the world were lost with millions affected. The coastal Thai community of Khao Lak, north of Phuket, was particularly badly affected by the waves. Poom Jensen, the grandson of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and a nephew of the current Thai King, was killed whilst his family was holidaying at Khao Lak.

At the time the popular tourist communities were able to clean up and re-open some of their hotels within weeks. A year later much of the damage had been cleaned up and repaired. NGOs rushed to Thailand to assist in the clean up and identification process of the dead.

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami occurred precisely at 7:59am local time on 26 December, with an epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. It was an undersea ‘megathrust’ earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.1–9.3. The tsunami and its aftermath were responsible for immense destruction and loss on the rim of the Indian Ocean. Some locations reported that the waves had reached a height of 9 metres, or more, when they hit the shoreline. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, and Thailand sustaining massive damage.

Thailand remembers the 16th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami | News by Thaiger

Last year there were memorial events at key locations around the island of Phuket and in Khao Lak. This year’s Light Up Phuket tsunami memorial event at Loma Park in Patong was cancelled due to concerns over Covid-19.

Last year’s religious ceremonies included Buddhist, Muslim and Christian rituals.

16 years after the Indian Ocean tsunami swept ashore, a container at the Takua Pa police station in Phang Nga, southern Thailand, still contains personal items from the hundreds of victims whose remains are unlikely to ever be given a name.

Wallets, documents, keys, electronic items, all labeled and catalogued as evidence, await positive identification. Nearby a graveyard contains 340 bodies buried in unmarked graves but police hope that, if people came forward to identify some of the items, there is still hope that some of the bodies could rest in peace with a name attached.

Here’s a story about the maintenance of the Tsunami Warning bouys.

And another with graphic footage of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami as it swept ashore in Thailand.

Thailand remembers the 16th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami | News by Thaiger


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  1. Avatar


    Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Very nice story. Excellent video. Thank you for helping us remember this sad day. It helps us appreciate life today. Makes me want to support Thai people in this terrible year of Covid

    • Avatar

      Fred glue

      Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      Back-up there MikeD, it was sad. It was not the only country that lost lives. Many countries supported Thailand
      Too help & also the cave rescue children & coach. Money come from everywhere too help Thailand.
      Just off the top off year head MikeD, you can not Dr: goggle, can you name me one country in the world that Thailand has helped over the last 200 years

      • Avatar


        Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 1:11 pm

        Such a negative comment in response to an innocuous post. And learn to spell.

        • Avatar

          Fred glue

          Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 1:46 pm

          I did not go too school. I am learning on the way, teacher Shane….. I am for lessons. You got time.

          • Avatar


            Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 7:36 pm

            Fred Glue, what a lack of empathy …
            Me too I do not speak/write Eng, but I do know that being kind is not something you formally learn at school…
            We can all be more positive and I wish you this for the coming new year.

      • Avatar

        James Pate

        Monday, December 28, 2020 at 6:32 am

        In conjunction with the United Nations and other organisations, Thailand has contributed medical personnel and others to help with disaster relief and many humanitarian crises in other countries. Thailand provided security personnel in the aftermath of Indonesia’s attack on the new state of East Timor and other conflicts. Though Thailand’s contributions may be considered small when compared to those of richer countries, why not ask those people who Thailand helped instead of just shooting your mouth off?

  2. Avatar


    Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    And again my message.
    When Thailand was struck by this tsunami the world stepped in to help.
    When children were stuck i a cave the world stepped in to help.
    NOW Thailand can do something back.!!
    Help stranded people get back to their loved ones!!!!
    But no we are dirry farangs.
    do something!!!
    Not just money money !!??

    • Avatar

      James Pate

      Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      Ask the Swedish people how Thais tried their best to help them after the tsunami.

    • Avatar


      Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at 11:37 am

      l agree with you Wijinschenk especially the european people, helped enormously , yet with this virus, the stranded were not treated well, even the present situation, whats left on the expats,are helping and supporting the locals in these difficult times.but when the mass tourist return all be forgotten ?

  3. Avatar


    Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    By the way:
    THAILAND is a very rich country…….

    • Avatar

      James Pate

      Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      So, you’re from Bangladesh or Congo, right?

  4. Avatar


    Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    One of the richest person in the world lives ownes Thailand.
    Need i say more???

  5. Avatar


    Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    I wonder how many of you that are turning this article into a bun fight, were actually there on the day, or were involved in the clean up and identification of the dead, councilled the families and friends who could not find their families or loved ones.

    There are many of us, both foreign and local who will carry the scars of this for our lifetime. So please, a little respect for those who will never see their families and children grow up, no matter what you think or feel about the country, or other countries around the world that were also left in the same position.

  6. Avatar


    Wednesday, December 30, 2020 at 9:44 pm

    Respect must be earned .
    Or am i wrong.
    My hart goes put tp the victums.
    But i have a hart too…..

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