Emails From The Epicenter

A group of emails and news from the region that was devastated by the tsunami. Thanks to Wavehunters for spreading the word. Visit their Web site at www.wavehunters.com You can make donations to SurfAid there.

Dear Surfers and friends,
Our prayers go out to the victims of quake and tsunami ravaged lands and coastlines throughout Southeast Asia, especially the thousands of souls in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand who have perished or lost family members, friends and countrymen in this horrific disaster.

Over the past 10 days Wavehunters has received many incredible reports from the effected areas. Here are some of the raw accounts that we have received from our operators and affiliates in the effected areas:

North Sumatra

Friends,
Thank you again to everyone that has been in touch with prayers, offers of help and donations for the people of Asu and Nias. It has touched us so much that you are so willing to help these people. Fortunately things are not as bad as we initially thought. I have spoken by Satellite phone today with friends from Sirombu who have returned to the area yesterday. Reports from Hinako, Asu and Bawa islands are that all residents are safe and no lives have been lost. We are not sure yet of damages, but are more concerned for lives. Sirombu on the mainland has been severely damaged and 8 people are confirmed dead and 2 people missing (which is well down from early reports of 120 people.) We presume that residents that fled the area were feared dead or missing and have now returned safely. An Indonesian presidential adviser toured the Hinako Islands yesterday after fears the island chain had been submerged. But a report in the Jakarta Post today says that “(Silalahi) looked happy to find intact the Hinako, Bawa and Asu Islands of the Sirombu district during an aerial reconnaissance mission.” It is also reported that he has distributed Rp 1 Billion (US$11,000) worth of food, medicines and other supplies to the islanders. Stu organised a small charted plane from Medan yesterday full of provisions for the islanders, which arrived safely yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately Stu had a motor bike accident whilst co-ordinating this breaking his arm and suffering some head injuries and is recovering in Medan hospital.

We cannot believe how fortunate these people are to come out of this disaster with such little damage. After seeing the enormity of its damage in areas so close, it truly is a miracle. We are confident that in the immediate future the people of Nias will be well looked after as supplies are still getting through to them, although as time passes help will be needed in the rebuilding of homes and boats. We may call on your help at that time. Right now I think we need to look further north to the Aceh region, to see where we can help immediately.

Max, Kell, Stu, Jamie, Phil, Anthony and Will Sumatran Surf Adventures

On Nias, an island off Sumatra popular with surfers, the chief of police Janner Pasaribu told The Age that no foreigners had been reported missing on the island but that 83 people had been killed.

Earlier officials had feared the death toll on the island would be much higher.

In Simeulue yesterday about 30,000 of the 70,000 population were camping out in the hills and mountains kilometres from the coast. Many villagers remember earthquakes and have been told by their grandparents to “run to the hills” when the ground shakes.

“They fear another tsunami will come,” said Darmili, the Mayor.

“They will not come down for some time. Who could blame them?”

Mayor Darmili said villagers on the island were used to earthquakes and tsunamis. A big earthquake last struck in 2002.

“Thousands of our people were killed by a tsunami in 1907 and we have many earthquakes here,” he said.

“Our ancestors have a saying – if there is an earthquake run for your life.”

Subject: Phuket.

hi Henry.
Just lettg you know Bintang Navistar Mungalui Katika are all ok and everyone is ok. Matt, who was having breakfast on the beach at Patong where it hit hardest and had to run with baby and 8 month pregnant Jenny to a high building watching the surge go under them taking people and cars bikes and everything with it. Very lucky, a lot weren’t. We were working 20ft up on the slip when 10-12ft surge hit Phuket but we were on the lee side of impact lucky… theres a lot of death and pain here at the moment.
daryl.

Lev
What a close call. Shook us up big time mate. Jen and I were having breaky on the beach at Patong of all places. People started running from the beach in mass hysteria – I picked up Elke and told Jen to fucken run – we bolted for our lives mate. Got 2 blocks back from beach and up some stairs to a hotel when the water reached us. we were safe , but pretty bloody scary I think Jonno had a real close call, even moreso than us. Only minutes before I was running along the beach and had a swim while jen started breaky – could of been gnarly. Our hire car (from dave Plant) was found standing on its front half way up a tree. Fun in paradise Mango, Katika, Bintang and Navistar are all OK – Dry dock on eastern side didn’t get full brunt of water. Saranya should be fine – best place to be is at sea – Russell probably doesn’t even know its happenend – he steaming from Simuellue to Aceh now. Heard Will’s camp at Simuellue got flattened also.
Talk again soon Matt

From: jon wilkinson
Subject: survived

Hi Shaun,
Myself , my girlfriend and Freedom survived the wave on Sunday. I’m sorry to have u worried with no reply but, since Sunday evening , we’ve just arrived back in Phuket and put ‘Freedom’ on the hard stand after waiting out at sea after warnings of a second wave.

Unfortunately I lost everything at my beach apartment at Kalim, north of Patong.But we’re both so lucky to be alive. If we had been asleep we would have died.

On Sunday morning i woke up and at 10.30 drove with my girlfriend to check on my dingy in Patong on the pier.When we were half way up the beach road i saw the sea drain a km out, we panicked and tried driving on the wrong side of the road to find a slip road.The last thing i saw was 1000 s of pepole on the beach just stairing and walking towards the water.

The next thing i saw the wave fill the beach and hit us side on pushing my SUV on another SUV and on top of a TUK TUK. This saved us.the other 2 cars were not so lucky, i think quicvk moving and thinking saved us.The electric windows seized and luckily the back window smashed open.We both got on the roof during the first wave.We then jumped a few foot to a building roof wher e we waited during the 2nd wave witha few thais.The building shook and we climbed a tree.The 3rd wave took out the building , we were lucky to of moved.Then the 3 rd wave took out the tree we were on but luckily it fell against other trees and we climbed alarge Palm tree which we stayed up for an hour until we swam to a near building.

During the time I saw people swept out all around us and thank God, we survived.

During this, yachts washed up along the beach into trees on the road .Nothing happened to Freedom, if it had been a mono hull, I’m not sure if it would of been the same.

The only damage was a bent anchor and I lost the dingy. We managed to get Freedom out of Patong bay and then took out to sea and arrived back in yesterday.

As I’m really busy I’ve got to take off. I just wanted you all to know we and Freedom are fine.

Have adrink for me on new year as i dont know how we survived, every thing just seemed to work for us at the time .Life is good.

all the best
Jono and Goi.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a country that is in a bad way; all west and east coast villages and tourist accommodation are wiped out. We are very relieved to have finally had communication from Sumi of Sri Lanka Surf tours to advise he is safe(see email from Sumi below). The rebuild of Sri Lanka, I believe it will take at least 12 months if not more. The positive aspect is that the wonderful Sri Lankan people were so strong and brave when it came to helping surfers and in turn we will offer our full support to them. World Surfaris did not have any clients in Sri Lanka at the time however two English surfers actually surfing when the wave hit and survived to tell the story!

All World Surfaris surf trips to Sri Lanka are all cancelled until further notice. We shall be the first back I guarantee this.

From: Sri Lanka Surf Tours
Subject: Re: Is everything OK!

HI,
Thank you for checking on us!! I was unable to contact you guys because of this bad incident!! But we are safe but we lost some of our properties!! All the Hotels & restaurants, bars has been destroyed!! But we surf guys started a program to clean the area & put up the things sooner. Arugam Bay also severely affected because of this. So we need to our friends assistance to get our people’s life back to normal & start tourism soon. If any anybody would like to help this program they can use:

Bank Account : Ocean Tide Surf Shop
No, 438 , Galle Road Wewala HIkkaduwa.
Bank : Bank Of Ceylon HIkkaduwa Branch
Bank Account No: 000 289 51

Thank you,
Sumi.

Maldives

Email from Lohifushi resort in the Maldives:
From: Mohamed Muslihu
Subject: news from lohifushi > muttu<

After 02days of no electricity, no telephone service, we are back to normal today. None of our guest got serious harm (not even staff). Everybody is fine.

I hope I can give some information about Lohifushi. From room # 201 to 255 (superior room ) all the rooms are damaged like windows broken, side wall of room broken and so on. We are better than all the resort because Lohifushi is one of the biggest resort in Maldives. And we are going to reopen our resort on January 1st with 80 rooms.

I really appreciate for your mail. We all are in good health NO WORRIES WE ALL ARE FINE.

From: Abdulla Sobah
Subject: RE: Maldives 2005.

Dear Shaun,

The KDM airport (Southern atolls) was never closed and no island in Gaafu Dhaal was severely damaged.

Meemu, Dhaal and Thaa were the atolls which were most severely damaged. Government with the aid of several foreign nations are cleaning these islands and they expect all the islands to be cleaned by the end of this month.

There is no pollution at all and health is also not a big concern here. As you know Maldives is always very clean.

I have been traveling to a few islands around North Male’ atoll and I never came across any debris in the ocean. It is as clean as before.

We are very lucky that it will be business as usual for Maldives 2005 surfing season.

Regards
Sobah
Proprietor of Handhu Charters

Briton surfed his way to Maldives safety
27/12/2004 – 18:26:12

The tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean barely noticed the Maldives, tearing through the collection of low-lying atolls — submerging some of them completely for several minutes — dragging tourists from their hotel rooms and swimmers out to sea.

At least 43 people were confirmed dead and 63 reported missing in the popular tourist destination today, the government said. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom declared a state of emergency.

Tourists described three-feet-high walls of water sweeping across their resort islands and into their bedrooms, with powerful currents dragging swimmers out to sea.

Mike Rigg, 33, a construction worker from the Wirral near Liverpool, was surfing at the resort of Lohifushi when the tsunami hit.

He said there was a six-feet-high surge in the waves and he was dragged along the edge of a powerful current, though he managed to stay out of the worst of it.

Finally he reached an area where he could stand and fought his way to shore.

He watched two scuba divers being rescued by a boat after being dragged by a current, and umi below). The rebuild of Sri Lanka, I believe it will take at least 12 months if not more. The positive aspect is that the wonderful Sri Lankan people were so strong and brave when it came to helping surfers and in turn we will offer our full support to them. World Surfaris did not have any clients in Sri Lanka at the time however two English surfers actually surfing when the wave hit and survived to tell the story!

All World Surfaris surf trips to Sri Lanka are all cancelled until further notice. We shall be the first back I guarantee this.

From: Sri Lanka Surf Tours
Subject: Re: Is everything OK!

HI,
Thank you for checking on us!! I was unable to contact you guys because of this bad incident!! But we are safe but we lost some of our properties!! All the Hotels & restaurants, bars has been destroyed!! But we surf guys started a program to clean the area & put up the things sooner. Arugam Bay also severely affected because of this. So we need to our friends assistance to get our people’s life back to normal & start tourism soon. If any anybody would like to help this program they can use:

Bank Account : Ocean Tide Surf Shop
No, 438 , Galle Road Wewala HIkkaduwa.
Bank : Bank Of Ceylon HIkkaduwa Branch
Bank Account No: 000 289 51

Thank you,
Sumi.

Maldives

Email from Lohifushi resort in the Maldives:
From: Mohamed Muslihu
Subject: news from lohifushi > muttu<

After 02days of no electricity, no telephone service, we are back to normal today. None of our guest got serious harm (not even staff). Everybody is fine.

I hope I can give some information about Lohifushi. From room # 201 to 255 (superior room ) all the rooms are damaged like windows broken, side wall of room broken and so on. We are better than all the resort because Lohifushi is one of the biggest resort in Maldives. And we are going to reopen our resort on January 1st with 80 rooms.

I really appreciate for your mail. We all are in good health NO WORRIES WE ALL ARE FINE.

From: Abdulla Sobah
Subject: RE: Maldives 2005.

Dear Shaun,

The KDM airport (Southern atolls) was never closed and no island in Gaafu Dhaal was severely damaged.

Meemu, Dhaal and Thaa were the atolls which were most severely damaged. Government with the aid of several foreign nations are cleaning these islands and they expect all the islands to be cleaned by the end of this month.

There is no pollution at all and health is also not a big concern here. As you know Maldives is always very clean.

I have been traveling to a few islands around North Male’ atoll and I never came across any debris in the ocean. It is as clean as before.

We are very lucky that it will be business as usual for Maldives 2005 surfing season.

Regards
Sobah
Proprietor of Handhu Charters

Briton surfed his way to Maldives safety
27/12/2004 – 18:26:12

The tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean barely noticed the Maldives, tearing through the collection of low-lying atolls — submerging some of them completely for several minutes — dragging tourists from their hotel rooms and swimmers out to sea.

At least 43 people were confirmed dead and 63 reported missing in the popular tourist destination today, the government said. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom declared a state of emergency.

Tourists described three-feet-high walls of water sweeping across their resort islands and into their bedrooms, with powerful currents dragging swimmers out to sea.

Mike Rigg, 33, a construction worker from the Wirral near Liverpool, was surfing at the resort of Lohifushi when the tsunami hit.

He said there was a six-feet-high surge in the waves and he was dragged along the edge of a powerful current, though he managed to stay out of the worst of it.

Finally he reached an area where he could stand and fought his way to shore.

He watched two scuba divers being rescued by a boat after being dragged by a current, and saw another motorboat unable at full power to make any headway against a violent surge of water rushing past the island.

Nicola Whiteford, 35, a structural engineer from London, said guests at Lohifushi huddled around the bar area, which was the only major part of the island that stayed consistently above water.

“The frightening thing was that before each wave, the lagoon emptied itself out and you could see the coral. So we knew another one was coming, she said.

Ms Whiteford said that for hours after the disaster, survivors didn’t know what had caused the tsunami or what to expect, because radio communications were patchy and power cuts meant television wasn’t working.

Eloisa Cino, a 29-year-old costume designer from Rome, said she was relaxing in her beachfront bungalow on Sunday morning when the tsunami smashed down the wooden door, overturning furniture and scattering her belongings.

“We grabbed what we could and tried to run, but there was nowhere to run, Cino said tonight as she waited to board a flight back to Italy.

The 50 by 300-yard Fun Island, south of the main Maldivian island of Male, was completely covered by water for several minutes before the sea subsided, Cino said.

Some walls of the brick bungalows were demolished, and five of the 100 people on the island were injured, one with a broken leg, she said.

Cari Webber, a 25-year-old student from Miami, had just checked into the Club Med Farukolhufushi and was walking to her room on the first day of a planned week-long holiday when the tsunami hit.

Electric power and plumbing were knocked out, and sewage mixed with seawater ran across the island. Webber fled to an upper storey of a resort building and huddled there wearing a life jacket for hours, fearing further surges.

Throughout Sunday night, resort staff patrolled the beaches looking out to sea. The guests were taken off the island by motorboat today.

Many tourists said casualties would have been much greater if the wave hadn’t struck in the daytime, when most people were awake and mobile.

Male’s airport reopened today after being closed most of Sunday. A half a dozen charter flights from Europe and India came to take tourists home. Hundreds of tourists packed the airport’s Internet café and telephone booths informing families and friends they were safe.

Officials said Pakistan has dispatched a ship and helicopters to the Maldives to carry relief items to the islands.

Maldives, a chain of 1,192 coral atolls south-west of India with a permanent population of 278,000, thrives on tourism and attracted more than 600,000 visitors this year.

At the peak year-end holiday season, there are normally around 20,000 foreign tourists in the Maldives, travel agents estimated.

Local agent Mohammed Sunan predicted it would take months for the industry to recover.

He said at least four or five of the Maldives’s roughly 80 resorts had been inundated with water, causing extensive damage.

Greetings from Desire Maldives Travel & Tours Pvt Ltd

G’day.

It’s really good to hear from you and thanks for your concern . we really appreciate that.

Even though Maldives have been considerably hit and affected by the tsunami waves, none of our staff or Gaaviya is effected at all. We’re very much in operation.

Some of the resorts have suspended their operation due to the damaged occurred by the waves- it’s the one’s with most water bungalows,and most of the resorts are in function normally, and the Airport is also in full operation. The whole of the Maldives was considerably affected by the waves, and many damages have been done to some of the rural islands. Male’ ( the capital ) have not been affected very much except for a bit of flooding at the water fronts at some points.Every thing is now back to normal, and the situation is very much under control.

There is no inconvenience of any sort that you would notice at any stage in vacating in the Maldives now, especially at the live-aboard se