Tidal wave toll rises

PHUKET: An unconfirmed 22 people have died and more than 1,000 have sought refuge at the Phuket Provincial Office in Phuket City after Phuket’s coast was swamped by a tidal wave caused by an earthquake off Sumatra this morning.

Waters off Phuket surged onto land, washing away homes on the east coast and causing damage at resorts all along the west coast.

The Gazette has received an unconfirmed report that 22 people have died, 19 of them at Patong.

Patong resident and Gazette columnist Woody Leonard reported, “A giant wave went up the beach, at least as far up as the Beach Rd. People were running from the beach as fast as they could. The beach is devastated. There were a lot of people on it [and they were] swept away by the wave.”

The waters reached as far inland as the Club Andaman Resort, some 150 meters inland.

The Gazette received a separate report that several people at Kalim, in Kathu, were killed in the surge, though that report has yet to be confirmed.

Kawee Sukunthamath, Chief of the Phuket Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (ODPM), has told the Gazette that homes along the east and west coasts are being evacuated as a precaution in anticipation of an aftershock expected to arrive at about 3 pm.

A warning has been issued on local radio stations asking people to stay away from the beaches until further notice.

All flights in and out of Phuket International Airport have been canceled until further notice, and the Sarasin and Tao Thepkrasattri Bridges, the only roads on and off the island, have also been closed as a precaution.

Wachira Phuket Hospital has reported two dead, both Thai, and has admitted 56 injured people, two of them foreigners.

At 11 am, Phuket International Hospital confirmed that at least 10 people had been admitted for serious injuries, and that many more were expected to arrive.

At Bangkok Phuket Hospital, many other injured people had been received, though a total could not be provided.

At Khao Khat, on the east coast, waters reached up to about 300 meters inland, washing coastal homes and vehicles away. People were holding on to whatever they could find to stop from being swept away.

K. Kawee said that the tremors were also felt in Phang Nga, Ranong, Krabi, Trang and Pattani. The Gazette has received a report that the surge left a Royal Thai Navy ship beached near the Tab Lamu naval base.

Phuket News

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