tsunami

 

tsunami-phuket

You can find our articles about Phuket Tsunami here

PHUKET INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Though seawater did breach the protective wall it did not, as earlier reported, flood the runway at Phuket International Airport. While the airport was closed for several hours due to high levels of sand and dust blown up by the initial shock of the wave, airport emergency crews quickly brought everything under control and it was re-opened by early Sunday evening and receiving flights from Bangkok, including one carrying Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who came to personally supervise the early stages of the rescue and clean-up efforts.

The first week or so after the tsunami saw the airport somewhat busier than would be normal for peak high season, with many tourists departing on the advice of their governments and tour companies or due to injuries. Arrivals included people arriving to search for lost relatives and friends, and the rescue workers from Bangkok and international agencies, but there were also still a number of tourists arriving, who – having checked with their hotels and found them to be fully operational – decided to continue with their holiday plans.

The airport today is an eerily quiet place considering the time of year. While many flights continue to arrive, most are far less than half full. Several of the airlines have reduced the number of flights to Phuket and at least one airline has suspended all flights to the island.

NAI YANG BEACH

Nai Yang Beach, just south of the airport, received significant damage along its beach road. There was not a single shop, bar or restaurant that had not been destroyed – some were simply not there anymore. However by the Thursday after the tsunami the beach had been cleaned up and many of the bars and restaurants were already under reconstruction.

The two major hotels – Crown Nai Yang Suite and Pearl Village – set some way back from the beach – received only nominal damage and are now back in full operation. Nai Yang Beach Resort reports that it has re-opened, with five of its 35 bungalows ready to receive guests. The remaining bungalows will be fully repaired by the end of January. (back to top)

NAI THON BEACH

At Andaman White Beach Resort the day after the wave staff from the hotel had returned the beach to its usual pristine condition. When the wave hit here staff had already cleared all of the guests from the beach and they were safely back in the hotel, which is set fairly high up the hillside. The only damage was to the resort’s dive centre and new beach bar – both at beach level – the latter, ironically, only having opened on Christmas Day.

Trisara received only nominal damage to its beachfront pool and buildings, which has since been repaired.  (back to top)

LAYAN BEACH

While there was significant damage to the beach area – with seawater surging back some 400 metres from the beachfront, there is little development on or near Layan Beach and so, fortunately, little damage except for the downing of a few electrical poles. Layan Beach Resort is set well back from the beach and received no damage whatsoever to the rooms, but some water damage to its buildings closest to the beach. Today only the spa building requires further repair. Everything else is open. Unfortunately the hotel reports occupancy stands at only 5%. (back to top)

BANGTAO BEACH (Laguna)

Despite claims in some TV news reports soon after the tsunami that it was totally destroyed, the internationally renowned Laguna Phuket complex, which fronts onto the centre of Bangtao Beach, received damage to only fifty of its 1100 rooms. One guest was killed when the water hit the resorts. Laguna Phuket reports that all five hotels are now fully operational. Damage was restricted to ground floor rooms close to the beach and some of their beachfront restaurants and pools, but all has now been repaired and is fully operational. Occupancy as of last week stood at below 20%

The south end of Bangtao Beach was not so lucky. The wave smashed inland about 200 metres – through trees, holiday bungalows and hotels – it ripped layers of tarmac off of the road and flung great chunks of it into the shops and bars behind. Eddying waters did further destruction, standing at over two metres for well over an hour, eroding large sections of the waterfront and causing further property damage and loss of life. Many of the bungalow operations and hotels in this area will not be fit for tourists for several months. Some may never re-open as they are just not there anymore.

A group of locals and expats have joined together to help with the rebuilding efforts in Bangtao. If you would like to offer aid or assistance, please call Mike on 09 873 6904. (back to top)

SURIN BEACH

Surin Beach is back to business as usual. By two days after the wave hit the quaint rows of wooden bars, restaurants and food vendors were open to a busy stream of tourists.

The new Twinpalms resort received no damage whatsoever and is operating at full capacity. While flooding damaged the Amanpuri’s gym and tour counters, nearest the beach, the rest of the resort is operating normally and the lives of all guests’ safe thanks to the work of quick-witted employees.

Sixteen of the bungalows nearest the waterline at the Chedi Phuket resort were damaged, management believe they will be able to re-open these to guests in about a month. Rydges Beach Resort had water damage to between 10 and 15 of its rooms but these have all now been repaired. (back to top)

KAMALA BEACH

Kamala received the heaviest and most widespread damage of any of Phuket’s beaches. The waters destroyed virtually everything as far back as the main coast road, with flooding reported in the Phuket Fantasea compound.

Many people died at Kamala. Thai locals and some tourists, seeing the tide go out over three hundred metres, ran onto the beach with buckets to collect the fish that were flopping around on the sand. Though the wave did not come for over fifteen minutes, many were caught on the sand when it did and were lost.

The clean up is, however, moving on rapidly despite far greater logistical problems than other areas. Getting heavy machinery and equipment into Kamala and debris out, has provided a huge challenge – effectively met the by Royal Thai Army.

Praised by everyone for their efficiency, friendliness and caring attitude, The Royal Thai Army, together with locals, businesses and associations have made great progress, creating a community spirit that has forged lasting friendships. Everyone has and is continuing to provide help wherever it’s needed, from private individuals raising funds, to large businesses like Phuket Fantasea, Kamala’s Vegas style night attraction, which provided trucks and manpower for the clean up.

Local hotels and friends have set up community funds (www.kamala-beach.net) and more recently another local hotel, Kamala Bay Garden Resort, agreed to provide temporary classrooms for local children, while their school is repaired Residents and members of the Hash House Harriers – a local running club – also lent a helping hand, raising over 300,000 baht to help re-build the school.

Locals are adopting a philosophical outlook as restaurants, and shops including 7/11 and the local bank, slowly re-open for business along the main road. The beach area will take a little longer, but given the commitment of this strong community, it won’t take long.

Kamala Bay Terrace Resort and Kamala Dreams resort received significant damage and are closed until further notice. Kamala Beach Resort suffered over 80 million baht’s worth of damage, but plans to re-open by the beginning of March. Kamala Bay Garden Resort and Kamala Beach Estate suffered no damage and are still open. (back to top)

KALIM BEACH

While none of the major Kalim hotels have reported damage, except Residence Kalim Bay, which suffered minor water damage but is otherwise open, two major real estate offices and the local school, which sits across the beachfront coast road, were hit hard by the wave. There is also some damage to the road itself, but this has been temporarily repaired. (back to top)

PATONG BEACH – the island’s famous nightlife, restaurants and shopping centre

Patong beach road is now fully to traffic. The beach has been cleaned up and is, in fact, more stunningly beautiful now than it has been in many years, without the usual interruptions of vendors and sun-loungers. All of the detritus has been cleaned away from the beach road, but businesses along this stretch may take some time to be rebuilt. Plans are afoot between Tourism Authority of Thailand, the central government and local government to completely re-design the look and facilities of Patong’s beach area. Until some firm and unified plan has been finally approved rebuilding work cannot begin in earnest

There is not a single business along the main stretch of the beach road that has not been badly damaged. It will be several months before all the scars have healed. The premises of major chain stores and name businesses that are now just shells – among the many others – include McDonalds, Starbucks, Watsons, KFC, Molly Malones and countless restaurants, jewellery stores and tailor’s shops. Many people, mostly staff, died in the basement of the Ocean Plaza department, when the waves filled it in moments with no warning.

Many of the small sois off the beach road also received considerable damage from cars, motorbikes, heavy wooden sun-loungers and tons of water being forced down the narrow passages. Lives and livelihoods have been wiped out, but still residents and business owners are making an effort to pick up the pieces and start again. The sooner authorities can agree a rebuilding scheme for the beach road, the sooner these business will be able to start looking again to the future.

By contrast, the famous Soi Bangla is now almost back to normal – if such a word could ever have been used for this road of restaurants bars, nightclubs and other entertainment. At the Rat-U-Thit Road end of Soi Bangla all the major bars, nightclubs and restaurants remained open throughout, while at the lower end of Bangla the well-known Kangaroo Bar, U2 Bar and many others were open for business in just a few days, despite all receiving water damage. Even the Bangla/beach road corner seafood restaurant Savoey has re-opened. Now all they need are customers.

Khun Wallee of the absolute beachfront Impiana Phuket Cabana reported that damage was so widespread at her resort that it will not re-open until October ’05. Two guests were killed but no staff lost. Khun Wallee claimed that this was due to the alertness of the massage ladies on the beach who spotted what was about to happen and warned guests and staff just in time.

Directly behind Cabana on the other side of the beach road, Thara Patong Beach Resort is advertising “Good Condition Rooms Available”. An employee stated that no rooms were damaged during the deluge and only the restaurants at the front of the resort are out of action for the time being.

Other hotels along Patong beach road caught by the wave include: Seaview Patong, Seapearl Resort and Patong Beach Hotel, closed until further notice; Horizon Beach Resort and Patong Resort, which plan to re-open before the end of January; Patong Merlin, re-opening before the end of March; and several smaller hotels and guest houses that are likely to be closed for some time.

Amari Coral Beach is reporting that it will be closed until the end of July, though the extent of the damage has not been disclosed. Holiday Inn Resort received extensive damage, which will cost in excess of 100 million baht to repair. However, the management plan to re-open one wing by early April and be fully operational by July.

The Hyton Leelavadee and Duangjitt Resort, both set back just a few hundred metres from the beach road – while all receiving modest water damage – are operating normally. Many, many others have received no damage at all and continue to run at full capacity. Though guests are in short supply at present.

Merlin Beach Resort, on the road to Tri Trang Beach, just south of Patong, received extensive damage to its front, despite being set back a good 400 metres from the beach. The resort pland to re-open by early April. The small restaurant, just off that beach and popular with many expats, is gone.

Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort – on the small bay between Patong and Karon – was evacuated on the day of the tsunami and will remain closed until the beginning of April. The hotel reported damage to its pool and beachfront restaurants. Staff confided that the biggest problem was with electricity and water supplies. Guests were transferred to the Sheraton Laguna Phuket, Hilton Arcadia at Karon and Royal Meridian Phuket Yacht Club at Naiharn – all of which are coastal properties but received only minor water damage and are operating normally. (back to top)

SMALL BEACHES SOUTH OF PATONG

Merlin Beach Resort, alone and exposed on a small beach 2 kilometres south of Patong, received extensive damage to its front, despite being set well back from the beach – which faces the direction of the wave. The resort is closed until further notice.

At the next beach south Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort – on the small bay between Patong and Karon – has been evacuated and closed. The hotel is reporting damage to its pool and beachfront restaurants. Staff confided that the biggest problem was with electricity and water supplies. Guests have been transferred to the Sheraton Laguna Phuket, Hilton Arcadia at Karon and Royal Meridian Phuket Yacht Club at Naiharn – all of which are coastal properties but received only minor water damage and are operating normally. Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort is expected to re-open in February. (back to top)

KARON BEACH

The layout of Karon saved it from receiving anywhere near the level of property damage other beaches suffered, though some shops and bars along the beach road – including the small local market – received nominal damage as the wave crested the wide swathe of grass between the beach and the road. These are now mostly back in operation, including the local market.

Almost all of the big hotels here are set well back from the beach and on fairly high ground, including the Hilton Arcadia, which received some damage to its Zen restaurant but is now operating normally. Karon Princess Hotel, Karona Resort and Spa, Karon Sea Sand Resort, Karon View Resort, Best Western Ocean View, The Front Resort, Karon Whale Resort Phuket, Tavorn Palm Beach Resort and Karon Bay View received no damage, and neither did many smaller guest houses in the area.

At the north corner of the Karon Beach Road, and perhaps the resort closest to the beach, Phuket Golden Sand Inn had fifty bungalows damaged by the flooding. Problems with electricity supply were cited as the chief reason for the hotel’s closure, but staff claimed it would be open again within a week. Phuket Island View, another resort close to the beach road, also received some damage. Twenty bungalows are without aircon and the pool is closed but the resort was otherwise running normally with no damage to the main hotel rooms. In On the Beach – a hotel that is the closest to being absolute beachfront, received considerable damage and is closed, during several inspection visits no one has been available to comment on when it will re-open.

On the hill between Kata and Karon, Marina Phuket was high enough up that it received no damage except to its Karon waterfront On the Rock restaurant. Karon Beach Resort – on that same hill but with more exposure – received damage to its lower floor rooms and is closed until February, staff reported. (back to top)

KATA BEACH

At the south end, the famous beachfront hotel Mom Tri’s Boathouse was badly damaged, but only on the ground floor. Rooms on the second and third floors were untouched. The entire ground floor restaurant and lobby was washed away. Owner and architect Mom Tri Devakul, who was touring the scene of the damage on Thursday, reported the hotel rooms will be open again before the weekend and that he will take this opportunity to remodel the restaurant. “It was due for a renovation anyway,” he said with a wan smile.

There was significant damage to the restaurants and bars at the south and north end of Kata Beach. Club Med – which dominates the central stretch of the beach road – was inundated at one end but untouched at the other. For safety the hotel was evacuated. We have not yet been able to contact anyone from the hotel to confirm when it will be ready to re-open.

Kata Beach Resort, also beachfront, received only nominal damage to some of its ground floor rooms and the pool was flooded out. The bars and restaurants at the back of the Kata Beach Resort, behind the Boathouse and at Kata Corner received no damage and were serving customers on the night of the wave. Some of the small shanty bars and shops behind Club Med were damaged but were getting back to normal as of Saturday.

The Kata Thani Hotel and Resort on Kata Noi Beach received some damage to its ground floor and swimming pool, but is otherwise fully operational. Guests in the ground floor rooms have been transferred to the hotel’s sister property the undamaged Katathani Bhuri, just across the Kata Noi beach road. The small beach front restaurants and some of the beach road shop were damaged by the wave but, as of Friday, were all being cleaned up and rebuilt. (back to top)

NAIHARN BEACH AND ENVIRONS

Naiharn Beach, at the southern tip of the island, was also hit hard by the wave, covering it in a thick layer of detritus. However, the bamboo restaurants at the back of the beach, in the trees, were all open and busy with guests at lunch time on the following Saturday, having received only modest water damage. The same cannot be said, alas, for the small row of restaurants at the entrance to the Royal Meridien Phuket Yacht Club, as they no longer exist – wiped out during the heaviest of the swells. However, the Royal Meridien itself received only very minor damage and is still fully operational. Sabana resort, just beyond the destroyed restaurants, received damage to its office buildings and parking lot, but the main hotel building was not affected. Clean up of the beach is now complete.

Despite earlier reports, the bungalow resorts along Ao Sein Beach, just beyond Royal Meridien, received very little damage. Only three bungalows closest to the beach were damaged and the beachfront restaurant was totally destroyed. As of Saturday, however, rebuilding work on the restaurant was well advanced, with staff and guests all chipping in to help with the work.

Two bungalow resorts and two private homes at Yanui Beach, the tiny inlet at the other end of Naiharn, have been completely destroyed. The damage to Yanui stretches several hundred metres inland. (back to top)

RAWAI BEACH

There was moderate but extensive damage along the sea wall at Rawai and several boats were destroyed, but the beach road remained open throughout. The well-known Nikita’s Bar was also damaged, but was back open for business one day after the wave. The Sea-Gypsy village did not fare as well with significant damage and loss of life. By Saturday many of the homes had been rebuilt there and fishermen were busy repairing nets and boats.

The Evason has announced that it is still fully operational, though the hotel’s jetty was washed away. The resort is reporting occupancy of just 5%. (back to top)

CHALONG AND AO YON BEACHES

A heavy wash ran up the lower east coast of Phuket, Chalong Bay, making a bit of a mess of the beach and leaving large chunks of boat propped up along the beach wall, but causing only a few light injuries. There was water damage to a couple of the beach front bungalow resorts, including Friendship Beach, but this has since been cleaned up and the restaurant now offering its full menu again. Guests were returning to there rooms just three days after the flooding. Vichit Bungalows is also back to full service.

Passing across Chalong Bay, the wave did destroy a very old, rickety and dangerous jetty used by the longtail boats, but left the new concrete Chalong Pier intact. The famous Jimmy’s Lighthouse restaurant at the pier received no damage and was open for business that evening.

The wave went on to hit Ao Yon, but caused only moderate property damage, mainly to the premises of CoralSeekers, which bases its tour and yachting operations from there. The clean up there was well underway the day after the wave hit. (back to top)

NAI YANG BEACH

Nai Yang Beach, just south of the airport, is decimated.  However, the two major hotels here – Crown Nai Yang Suite and Pearl Village are set some way back from the beach and received only nominal damage.  They will be back in full operation within a week or two, though the latter is not currently recommending bookings. Nai Yang Beach Resort is closed until further notice. Along the road closest to Nai Yang beach not a single shop, bar or restaurant survived.  On the Thursday the clean up operation was in full swing, with some places already rebuilding. (back to top)

PHUKET CITY

The island’s business and administrative centre received no damage whatsoever. The city’s fishing port was not so lucky. A huge swell roared up the channel past Rattanachai boatyard, dragging dozens of large and small fishing boats off their moorings and thrusting them into a tangled mass against the bridge to Sirey Island.

The Sea Gypsy village on Sirey was also hit hard, with many homes destroyed. One lady from the village reported that, fortunately – and surprisingly, considering the damage – there were no dead or missing, only a few injuries. (back to top)

BEACH CLEAN-UP AND REBUILDING AROUND THE ISLAND

As of Thursday, Royal Thai Army engineers from Ratchaburi, staff from many hotels and villagers from both seafront and inland communities had completed total clean ups of many of Phuket’s beaches, including Kata, Karon and Naiharn. Others are expected to be finished before the weekend is out.

Most of the hotels and resorts that were caught by the wave are reporting very minor damage – averaging between 15 and 20 rooms each. Of the several hundred hotels and guest houses that the island has to offer, only a dozen or so have been completely closed down and most have received no damage whatsoever. All that we were able to contact claim that full service will be returned in just a couple of weeks. It should also be noted that damage caused by the tsunami on Phuket has directly affected less than ten percent of the island.

The weight of human loss and loss of livelihoods that it has wrought, and that which is still yet to come to light, is of course immeasurable. To all those people affected, we send out our most heartfelt condolences. We know you are many and we hope that we can be as strong as you and stand beside you in the months to come.

It is the Thai people who, in what would be considered overwhelming circumstances for many westerners, are quietly, stoically, cleaning up and beginning the rebuilding work on Phuket. It is a scene repeated up and down the coast. There are no scenes of wailing desperation, so beloved of CNN and BBC, despite the enormous tasks that face them.

Where foreign tourists have fled the “terror”, the Thai people are still here. Despite their losses – and that’s not just a few suitcases of clothes – there are no mercy flights to whisk them away. They will be here throughout all that is to come. The Thai people of Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga are the heroes here, for it is they who have lost the most and they will be the ones who take on the task of rebuilding the Pearl of the Andaman. (back to top)

PHI PHI ISLANDS

The initial reports received from Phi Phi were that the place was ‘wiped out.’ A visit to Ton Sai Bay on January 13 confirmed that, while this is the case with the Ton Sai Bay-facing stretches of the island, there are areas on the leeward side of the island that escaped any major destruction from the wave and are now fully operational and awaiting visitors.

Phi Phi Holiday Inn, Phi Phi Island Village Resort and Phi Phi Natural Resort are located on the north-western side of the island. Each hotel experienced a rise in the tide, and slight damage to their beachfronts but the areas have been cleaned up and today there is little evidence of the December 26 tsunami. These three beachfront resorts still offer all of the activities and spectacular island scenes that originally attracted people to Phi Phi. All dive, snorkelling and speedboat tours here are up and running and the report from the PADI scuba dive instructors on this side of the island is that the coral damage just offshore is minimal – the dive areas remain completely intact.

There are ferries running daily to each of these resorts. As for Ton Sai Bay, its future remains unclear. While there appears to be an efficient clean-up and restoration operation in place throughout the area, it may take many months before decisions are made on its remodelling. Reconstruction could take over a year to complete. (back to top)

KRABI BEACHES

With the exception of Phi Phi Island, Krabi province escaped much of the devastation that the tsunami caused elsewhere. On the mainland, a long-time Krabi expatriate reported that the death toll was under 50 people, and that the structural damage was very slight. The scene at Ao Nang beach is consistent with this report – it seems that the small sea wall, combined with the strict development restrictions imposed in this area saved most of the restaurants, bars, hotels and guests in the region. It appears that all of the hotels and tourist facilities between Nopparat Thara Beach and Ao Nang beach remain open and fully operational. (back to top)

KOH YAO NOI Koh Yao was lucky. While 21 tourists and people from the island died on the nearby Koh Hong and while at work on Phi Phi, no one was killed on the island. Worst hit were the fishermen, who lost fish and shrimp farms, boats, nets and the houses that hang over the water. All the small businesses on the sea front on the east side of the island were gutted

There appears to be lasting damage to the Laem Sai fishing village on the southeast end of the island and to the coastline, which is reported to have “changed somewhat and there are rocks where there were none before”. Around 35-40 fishing boats are out of action with smashed hulls and/or engines.

All resorts are up and running again. Island Resort was hit worse than anywhere but has done a remarkable job with a huge repair team and is now welcoming back customers.

Pyramid Bar is open again after a very near miss – the wave split just before it reached this beachfront bar, leaving only about three metres of water to clean up. Locals are using the bar as a place to rally and discuss plans and developments in the evenings. Otherwise the island is extremely quiet – lots of cancellations and few newcomers. (back to top)

KOH LANTA For the most part Koh Lanta has no major infrastructure damage – water, electricity and roads were unaffected. 90% of the resorts on the island sustained little or no damage. Beaches are mostly clean with families enjoying perfect weather and crystal clean water. There is absolutely no indication that the water and food supply has (or could) become threatened. Transportation to and from the island is currently confined to mini bus transfers via car ferries, but daily passenger ferries will begin shortly between Krabi, Phuket and Koh Lanta.

The far western end of Klong Dao Beach (often referred to Deer Neck), and the fishing village close to Lanta Old Town, (on the east side of the island), sustained the most concentrated damage. Various bamboo-structured resorts and businesses, located on Lanta’s were washed away but the majority of resorts are operating as normal. Approximately 10 resorts – of the 150 total – are closed long-term for repairs. A hotel status report is available at www.kolanta.net Koh Lanta’s diving industry has returned to normal with positive reports about the status of our world-renowned dive sites. Contrary to media reports, coral and marine life has not been affected and snorkelling havens, such as Koh Rok, are as stunning as usual. (back to top)

KHAO LAK

The clean-up operation at Khao Lak has been absolutely heroic. While unbelievable sights, such as the Marine Police vessel beached 2 kilometres inland, are a testament to the incredible power of the wave, relief efforts reflect the power of the human spirit.

A huge amount has already been done, with the landscape changing daily. Many damaged hotel structures have already been cleared. Much of the rubble and mangled cars have been taken away, with metal piled on to scrap trucks ready for re-cycling. The entire area is busy with activity. The sound of heavy machinery – excavators, diggers, and graders – provides an unusually welcome background noise and renewed optimism.

Neat piles of rubble dot the landscape awaiting clearance. All along the highway, new electricity poles, erected within days of the disaster show a determination to get back on track, bringing power to the hundreds of displaced people now living in temporary camps.

The relief operation which swung into action so effectively is now turning its attention to the longer term prospects for the area. Many of the pick-up vehicles travelling daily to Khao Lak bring visitors from overseas aid foundations and government officials, as well as concerned individuals co-ordinating their own relief efforts. The main road is busy. Thai and foreigners, residents and visitors, Royal Thai army personnel and relief operations en route to the makeshift village camps bring hope to those who lost their homes. New gas stoves, towels, soap, toothpaste, cooking pots, shampoo, rice, the kind of items we all take for granted, yet essential, provide a smile as the families begin to rebuild their lives. (back to top)

Diving / Coral reefs Post Tsunami report

Dear Friends and Readers.

We would like to express our condolences to the families and friends of victims, who suffered so terribly on 26th December 2004. We have received so many calls and e-mails of support from our former guest’s and friends who have visited and gone diving with us over the past years. We thank you for caring about our well-being and safety.

We could not have imagined this type of situation before December 26th, and are uncertain as to how to make an appropriate statement. We hope that you will continue to support Thailand’s diving community, as most of the diving centres were operationally unaffected by the tsunamis. Perhaps the most appropriate statement is simply about the quality of scuba diving.

Diving operations, both in terms of live-aboard boats, day trips and courses, remain unaffected and unchanged. Dive sites along the coast, including the Similan Islands, Ko Bon, Ko Tachai, Surin and Richelieu Rock, and into the Mergui Archipelago are not damaged in any significant way. Some sites were affected slightly, others not at all. There is absolutely no truth to rumours of heavy devastation, and loss of marine life. We have had divers out diving since the waves and surge hit, and although there are some changes to dive sites, mostly around Island No 9 in the Similans, all of the areas still offer world-class diving.

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The dive sites in the Mergui Archipelago were completely unaffected by the waves or surges and the islands also escaped topside damage or distruction. They remain as beautiful and unspoiled as ever. We had trips operating out in the Mergui Archipelago on the 26th December. Our crews only noted strange surges and currents through the islands for a couple of hours and definitely not large Tsunami waves, as seen on the Andaman coast further to the south. The Moken sea gypsies that inhabit the waters of the Mergui Archipelago are all safe, despite press statements to the contrary.

Phuket Island is now returning to normality, with-ninety five percent of it having been undamaged by the Tsunami wave. The Thai authorities are busy repairing damage caused to the beach areas along Phukets’ west coast resort towns. All of the islands hotels are operating as normal. Some of the hotels located close to the beach, on the west coast have sustained some damage, but this is being fixed as we speak.

We encourage you to continue diving and not cancel your live-aboard or other diving plans, out of Phuket. In this way you can support the local economy so that the people, (especially Thai locals), in southern Thailand will not face another tragedy, this time economic, in 2005 and beyond.

Best Regards,

Adam Frost – Managing Director. SEAL – South East Asia Liveaboards Co., Ltd. 225 Rat U Thit Rd, Patong Beach, Phuket 83150, Thailand.

Tel: + 66 (O)76 340 406 or 340 932. Fax: +66 (0)76 340 586. www.seal-asia.com

Here you can find some Tsunami articles written by Phuket Magazine Team