Quake, revisited

phuket.bmpIt’s not so much that I’m an insensitive bastard, but rather I tend to put my cynical, jaded foot into my cynical, jaded mouth. Back in 1989, I was very flippant and non-chalant about the Bay Area quake, not realizing at the time the full impact and resulting death toll that the quake would have. So when friends SMSed me this morning about tremors in Bangkok, my first thought was “Just another bunch of people making much ado about a jiggle that wouldn’t even cause your run-of-the-mill Californian to bat an eye.” And boy, was I wrong. Again.

The 5th largest recorded earthquake in recorded history, and a death toll almost 5,000 (almost 200 in Thailand alone, many of them tourists and divers who got swept out to sea). What a truly tragic and very “un-Christmas-sy” way to end the year. My prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones.

Current casualty estimates:

Sri Lankan military authorities report over 2,400 people killed, most of them in the eastern district of Batticaloa

At least 1,800 killed by waves which flooded the southern coast, interior minister says

More than 500 killed — many of them in Aceh, in northern Sumatra

Thai authorities say nearly 400 were killed — 200 reported on the small island of Phi Phi

At least three children reported killed in the high waters on an island north of the capital, Male

9 Comments so far

  1. scuba (unregistered) on December 27th, 2004 @ 12:53 am

    I see the death toll is up to 7,000 with more expected. Very sad indeed, but I think you were right the first time. Sure it’s a tragedy for folks who were really hurt, and 8.9 is a monster quake, but hell it was nowhere near Bangkok! Epicenter is off Sumatra somewhere, hundreds of miles away. The Hayward quake in 1989 was much closer to SF, and even closer to Palo Alto where I was. I got a call this morning from a friend saying “what should I do, it’s an earthquake…” while I’m looking around saying “whuuu….?” I told him to stand in a doorway until it’s over and not to use the elevator. Then I went back to sleep.

    People have told me that SF is the most earthquake safe city in the world because of the building codes. If we had a serious one anywhere near Bangkok, I doubt you and I would be posting about it that day!

  2. Kim (unregistered) on December 27th, 2004 @ 4:27 am

    do you know where Phuket is? does anyone know if phuket has been affected, how can i find thsi out?

  3. usvirgin (unregistered) on December 27th, 2004 @ 4:55 am


    I’m kind of surprised you found this blog, yet you don’t know how to find news about Phuket. The photo, above, was taken of Phuket. You could check any news site or http://www.phuketgazette.com . Lots of photos on this site: http://www.thailand-photos.net/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/523

  4. Erik (unregistered) on December 27th, 2004 @ 4:55 am

    Looks like 10,000 now…

  5. Ben Harris (unregistered) on December 27th, 2004 @ 9:56 am

    After looking at the pictures that are floating around the web (like the ones at winterson.com), I’m amazed anyone survived.

  6. isriya (unregistered) on December 27th, 2004 @ 1:45 pm

    if you can read Thai, manager.co.th is best news site for this event. Thai TVs are suck! We don’t have news channel anymore!

  7. Paul (unregistered) on December 27th, 2004 @ 6:21 pm

    It’s been confirmed that the tsunamis have claimed a royal victim:

    Grandson of Thai king among tsunami dead
    27 Dec 2004 08:18:54 GMT
    Source: Reuters

    BANGKOK, Dec 27 (Reuters) – The 21-year-old grandson of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej was among those killed by a tsunami that struck southern Thailand, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Monday.

    Bhumi Jensen was last seen jet-skiing off Krabi when the deadly wave battered the popular resort area. His body was found later by rescue workers near Khao Lak beach.

    Bhumi is the son of the king’s eldest daughter, Princess Ubolratana, who gave up some of her royal privileges after marrying a foreign commoner.

  8. him (unregistered) on December 28th, 2004 @ 3:53 pm

    You hear a lot on the TV about the “smell” left by this tsunami. Today I went to the edge of the part of Penang that was badly hit. Bearing in mind the fact that Penang got off particularly lightly… it stank, despite the cleanup that was going on.

  9. Ben Harris (unregistered) on December 30th, 2004 @ 9:08 am

    Yes, but what did it smell like BEFORE the tsunami? :)

    Don’t forget that there are many places in Thailand that smell like that every day (Saen Saep Canal anyone?).

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