Tsunami Thailand

By | June 25, 2014

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The 2004 Thailand Tsunami

By | January 1, 2014

Thailand Tsunami

The Tsunami that struck Thailand on December 26,2004 was as a direct result of an “tsunamigenic earthquake” or underwater tsunami generating earthquake that took place off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.

The magnitude 9.3 earthquake, the second highest EVER recorded had, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the strength and impact of 23,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs.

The forces that had been building up in the Earth’s bowels for a 100 years finally unleashed its fury as it shook the ground under the sea sending out a series of killer waves called Tsunamis.

Simply stated, “tsunami’s are a series of waves, generated in a shallow depth of water(up to 30 metres) by a large disturbance, that vertically displaces the water & can be the result of earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, explosions, and even the impact of meteorites.”


Due to the complex rupturing of the sea floor, some tsunami waves effectively travelled with the “crest” first whilst others travelled with the “trough” first.

When a trough reaches the coastline, it causes the sea to withdraw and disappear from the beaches. This is one of the classic warning signs of an approaching tsunami. Tragically many people were unaware of this sign, and were actually drawn by the amount of fish left flapping on the sand.

Minutes later the crest waves would arrive and the full force of the tsunami caused a billions of tonnes of water to crash down on the beaches. Although not helpful to people on the beach, it has been reported that elephants seemed to sense that something was coming. They began acting strangely, stamped the ground and tugged at their chains until they broke away and headed to the hills. Elephants have special bones in their feet that enable them to sense seismic vibrations long before humans can.

Within hours of the earthquake the killer waves had slammed into 11 countries in the Indian Ocean area bringing unbelievable death and destruction to countries as far apart as Indonesia,Thailand, India, Sri Lanka & even West Africa. It is believed that just short of 300,000 people in total either died or were missing as a direct result of the Tsunami!.

Thailand Tsunami

The Tsunami waves that hit Thailand reached up to 50 feet high snatching the lives and destroying the properties of both locals and visitors alike. A reported 8,000 were killed immediately, 8,500 injured and about 2,800 missing including foreign nationals. Reports showed that children and women were mostly the ones killed. Some 1,600 bodies are still unidentified.

Witnesses recounted that the Tsunami sounded like three freight trains as it came like a rush at them. Others reported that the Tsunami came as surge of foaming water. In some parts the Tsunami manifested itself as the water by the shore recedes by as much as 2.5 kilometers.

Tourists and locals in Thailand beaches were so overwhelmed by the exposed sea floor that they went to investigate and marvel at the occurrence. One British child studied Tsunamis in her geography class and knew for sure that the receding ocean was a sure sign of a coming Tsunami. The child was able to warn her family and other tourists in the beach and saved their lives.

A local Indian man recalled watching a show about receding shore lines and knew that that meant danger. He was able to save 1,500 villagers as they fled to higher grounds. Experts estimate that a receding ocean may give you a five minute opportunity to flee to higher grounds. If only people had known, how many lives could have been spared?.


Koh Lanta


The waves of the Tsunami hit hard and furious as fast as it came to the shoreline. Many people who were spared the initial wall of water that hit them on the beaches & inland areas were then sucked back to the sea.

Many were not aware that Tsunamis come in bands of “crest’s & trough’s” so that after the first wave, many ventured back out to the beach thinking it was safe!.



Phi Phi Island


The critical timeline of the Tsunami that hit Thailand was:
* 7.58a.m Earthquake off west coast of Sumatra measured at 9.3 on the Richter Scale.
* 9.35a.m. Sea receded to 100 meters from the Andaman coastline & islands for around 5 minutes.
* 9.38a.m. Large wave strikes, 2-3 meters high.
* 9.43a.m. First tsunami strikes – 6-7 meters high. * 10.03a.m. Second tsunami strikes up to 10 meters high.
* 10.20a.m. Third tsunami strikes, 5 meters high – creates hour long inundation of all coastal areas.
* 12.00a.m. Sea level returns to normal.

The worst affected places were Khao Lak 6-10 meter waves, Phuket(west coast) 3-6 meter waves, Phuket(east coast) 3 meter waves & Phi Phi Islands 4.5-6.0 meter waves with commensurate damage according to the wave size ranges.

It is estimated that a total of 120,000 livelihoods were lost in Thailand’s 2004 Tsunami. Relief came from all over the world. The long days turned into weeks then months as affected individuals and families, foreign tourists included as they all helped look for missing loves ones. The tourism industry was badly affected too as who would want to vacation in a Tsunami prone beach?.

Thailand Tsunami

The Thai government co-ordinated the relief and economic recovery of affected individuals. As villager and business owners and tourists visited the beaches of Phuket, they were devastated by the destruction and havoc that they viewed. The air was filled with grief as survivors looked for their lost loves ones.

Thousands were housed in relief tents and makeshift homes. You could hear the sound of sawing and hammers as locals improvise to make a roof for over their heads, albeit temporarily.

The speed of recovery of the beaches for the whole Andaman Sea area was mostly down to the perseverance and tenacity of the Thai people & foreign helpers whole literally turned up in their thousands to just do what they could to help.

The recovery period was fast as most of the beaches were restored within just a few days, while most of the commercial & retail centers like hotelsand shops took a year or more to be fully functional.

As a direct result of the tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004, a network of tsunami early warning systems now exist throughout the six provinces that all face the Andaman Sea, designed to ensure that in future there is sufficient notice of impending tsunami’s to effect maximum evacuations.