Some stories of tsunami survival ...
(Top Posts - Social/Legal - 010205)

... amongst the widespread carnage, said survival
attributable to aspects of being entailing naturalism,
education, human experience, intuition, and a quality
most often referred to as 'good luck' and 'good for-

Ironic, really, when getting hit by a once-in-a-century-
or-more tsunami might be characterized as the ut-
most in 'bad luck' and 'misfortune', but hey, when
good things happen in the midst of disaster, the
human tendency is to look on the bright side, kind
of a survival instinct being relieved one didn't die
or get seriously hurt, no matter how many others
did, I suppose.

Sometimes, amongst those of a religious inclination,
the word God is substituted for 'good luck' and 'good
fortune', as being the entity to credit when good things
happen amongst otherwise disastrous events.

Sometimes, amongst some religious elements of a
'God should be feared' view, the word God is substi-
tuted for 'bad luck' and 'misfortune', as being the entity
'justifiably angry as in old testament wrath-of-God mode'
when tragedies like a once-in-a-century-or-more tsunami

In any case, the parts of the stories presented below
leave off the individual attributions of God (from the multi-
ple religious faiths and absence of faiths present in the
individuals described in these stories), so for those who
believe in God, insert applicable God credit or blame
and God kindness or anger in the following stories.

Said decisions on God's involvement or lack of involve-
ment in the following would be, in all likelihood, based
on your socially/culturally/religiously/parentally influenced
view of when/where/how your version of God intervened,
or didn't intervene, in the following ... unless, of course,
you perceive life as naturalistic, and view God (all that
are defined in supernaturalistic religious realms) as myth ...

- - -

January 1, 2005

Girl, 10, saved hundreds of lives

From correspondents in London,4057,11833299%5E

Complete article:

A 10-year-old British schoolgirl saved the lives of
hundreds of people in southern Asia by warning
them a wall of water was about to strike, after learn-
ing about tsunamis in geography class, British media
reported today.

Tilly, who has been renamed the "angel of the beach"
by the top-selling tabloid The Sun, was holidaying with
her family on the Thai island of Phuket when she sud-
denly grasped what was taking place and alerted her

"Last term Mr Kearney taught us about earthquakes
and how they can cause tsunamis," Tilly was quoted
as saying by The Sun. "I was on the beach and the
water started to go funny. There were bubbles and
the tide went out all of a sudden. I recognised what
was happening and had a feeling there was going to
be a tsunami. I told mummy."

Her intuition was enough to raise the alert and prompt
the evacuation of Phuket's Maikhao beach and a neigh-
bouring hotel before the water came crashing in, saving
hundreds of people from death and injury.

According to The Sun, no-one on Maikhao beach was
seriously hurt by the tsunamis that have left more than
125,000 dead and millions homeless around the shores
of the Indian Ocean.

The girl's geography teacher, Andrew Kearney, told the
paper he had explained to his class that there was about
10 minutes from the moment the ocean draws out before
the tsunami strikes.

Agence France-Presse

- - -

January 2, 2005

The wave that shook the world



It was now more than three hours since the quake,
and thousands were already dead. But the waves
it had produced retained the power to kill. They
continued thousands of miles westwards across
the globe until they encountered the barrier of

In Somalia, where civil order has been destroyed
by warring militias, there was no warning: hundreds
of fishermen are thought to have died, as well as
people in coastal towns battered by the tsunami.

In neighbouring Kenya, by contrast, only one person
is thought to have been lost.

Warned by news broadcasts of what was on the
way, a Kenyan bureaucracy not normally known for
its efficiency acted with praiseworthy swiftness. Boats
offshore were warned to come in, and to spread the
news to smaller craft without radio. Police were sent
to clear the beaches of tourists, and coastal commun-
ities were evacuated.

People on the east coast of Madagascar also got out
in time, and although the tsunami caused extensive
damage there and in Reunion, Mauritius and the Sey-
chelles, where a bridge linking the capital, Mahe, with
the main airport was destroyed, the death toll in Africa
would have been small had it not been for the anarchy
of Somalia.


- - -

January 1, 2005

Report: Sea gypsies' knowledge saves village
Newspaper says Thai fishermen warned of tidal wave


Knowledge of the ocean and its currents passed
down from generation to generation of a group of
Thai fishermen known as the Morgan sea gypsies
saved an entire village from the Asian tsunami, a
newspaper said Saturday.

By the time killer waves crashed over southern
Thailand last Sunday the entire 181 population of
their fishing village had fled to a temple in the
mountains of South Surin Island, English language
Thai daily The Nation reported.

"The elders told us that if the water recedes fast it
will reappear in the same quantity in which it disap-
peared," 65-year-old village chief Sarmao Kathalay
told the paper.


- - -

December 31, 2004

Marin family was nearly swept away

By Carla Bova, IJ reporter,1413,234~24407~2628139,00.html


James and Vivian Firmage and their daughters,
10-year-old Caitlin and 7-year-old Michaela, of
Strawberry, checked out of their beachfront
bungalow on the Thai island of Phi Phi moments
before massive waves, reportedly reaching up
to 40 feet high, crashed to shore and chased at
their heels as they raced to higher ground.

The family returned home safely late Wednesday
after escaping the tsunami generated after a 9.0
magnitude earthquake struck south Asia on Sun-
day, ravaging coastal areas and claiming the lives
of at least 119,000 people.

"I will never forget it," James Firmage said. "The
water was 10, 15 feet high, engulfing trees, this
brown muddy water that looked like a giant wall."


James Firmage, 39, who works in marketing and
sales, described the island as a third of the size
of Catalina Island and shaped as an hourglass with
horseshoe bays on both sides. In the middle was
an isthmus with beach bungalows and shops.

The family stayed at a resort called Phi Phi Charlie.

"Part of its charm were the single-story bungalows
right on the beach," Firmage said. "When the tsu-
nami hit, it washed away all the single-story build-
ings. Had we been in our bungalow, we would have
been washed away into the sea or dragged under
a ton of mud and debris and wood."

Instead, the family had checked out, per their sche-
uled travel itinerary, and walked together toward the
north end of the beach, where Vivian Firmage, a
35-year-old dentist, had planned to get a massage
before departing.

All their luggage had been checked at the resort
reception area, and James carried a small backpack
with passports and plane tickets.

Firmage said the first sign of something awry was
that fishing and tour boats, typically bobbing in the
water, had all run aground.

"The tide was out and unusually low," Firmage said.
"It should have been in, but it receded out at an
unusually fast pace. We saw the locals look out to
the bay with a mixture of wonderment and anxiety."

Then the family could see the coral reef, an even
more unusual sight.

"We should have never been able to see it, and
then we noticed water coming back in a circular
motion," Firmage said. "The waves were running
parallel to the beach as opposed to straight in."

Suddenly the wave changed direction and headed
for shore, growing as it approached.

"We backed up slowly, then locals picked up their
kids and started to run past us," Firmage said. "We
decided that was not good and ran, too. ... Then we
started hearing a sound like an airplane when it starts
to take off."

"I did not know what was going on," Caitlin said. "I
never saw the water, I saw children being picked up
by their parents and I kept running. Everything hap-
ened very fast, no one was prepared."

The family had run maybe 150 yards from the beach
when the water crested and slammed to shore.

"Now there was panic," James Firmage said. "We
heard screaming, trees snapping. We thought we
would never get away."

They ran on a path through a village, racing to dis-
ance themselves from the shore.

"I looked back and saw a hut we just ran around and
it exploded - water blew out the sides and shot the
roof in the air," Firmage said.

With the water now 20 to 30 yards behind them, the
family ran toward higher points about 400 feet above
sea level.

"As we ran up some stairs the water went past," Firm-
age said. "We climbed higher and could see where
the village was, now was a river of mud and debris.
We saw people clinging to rooftops. ... Where there
had been land, there was none. You just knew people
were buried."

Everyone who made it to the top of the mountain
waited for aftershocks and subsequent large waves
to pass.

A makeshift camp was created in the jungle, where
Firmage estimated some 250 people stayed and tried
to sleep through the night wearing bathing suits and

"People would jump up every hour and yell, 'Snake!'
and mosquitoes were all over, so we slept maybe two
hours," Caitlin said of her night in the jungle. "We met
friends there, a group of 20, and we became like fam-
ily in 24 hours."

They left the hilltop at about 7 a.m. the next day and
walked through town to board a ferry.

"We got onto the ferry along with 9,000 others and
tried to get off the island because nothing was left,"
James Firmage said.

Word spread that inland airports were in operation,
and people headed for Krabi.

"In Krabi, people looked to the ship as a ship of hope,
searching for their family," Firmage said. "We saw
many happy reunions and many saddened faces."

Once on land, a local business gave the family free
food, free shower and free Internet access to con-
tact family and friends.

"I called my mom straight away," Firmage said. "She
knew the island had been washed away and had been
waiting 12 hours to hear from me."

The family boarded a bus for a 17-hour ride to Bang-
kok, where they had reservations at a hotel. At that
point they were able to resume their scheduled travel
plans and waited for their flight back home.


- - -

January 2, 2005



Survivors of Asia's killer waves faced heart-rending
choices, terror and grief. Their miraculous survival
provides hope amid the carnage. Here are some
tales of resilience:

NAGAPPATTINAM, India - Fisherman G.M. Veer-
appan and three of his children survived the tsunami
by clinging to the remnants of his demolished home:
a pole stuck in the ground.

"My eldest daughter climbed on my back. I took the
younger two in my arms and climbed onto the lone
pole that remained after our house was destroyed,"
he said.

As the water roared around him, Veerappan clung on
desperately. But the fierce waves pounded against
him, pummeling him with debris.

"There was no proper grip and I was slipping. After
one hour, I lost all strength and dropped the two
younger kids. I cried and cried, thinking I had killed
my children," he said, shuddering at the memory.

After a few hours, rescuers reached Veerappan,
and pulled the father and his 6-year-old daughter
to safety as the waters began to recede.

When Veerappan came ashore, rescuers told him
they had also found his two younger sons, ages 4
and 2. Unconscious and barely breathing, they had
been discovered at the water's edge, half buried
under sludge.

The family, now reunited, is staying at a makeshift
shelter at a marriage hall. His wife and two other
children were safe at a relative's home.


- - -

December 30, 2004

Family is saved by mother's intuition



A WOMAN'S intuition saved a Bahraini family
of four from being caught by the tidal wave
which hit the Thai island of Phuket. Hekmat
Jaffer Abdulla Abedeen was holidaying with
her husband Mosa Salman Fraidoon and their
two children Salman, aged six and Moham-
med, three.

They are all now safely back in Bahrain, after
an ordeal which is still giving the children night-

Ms Abedeen, a nurse at the Salmaniya Medical
Complex, said she knew something was wrong
as soon as they felt their beach hotel give a little
shake, at 7am on Sunday. "When we went down-
stairs to the lobby, I decided against going on
a full day tour, which included a boat trip to Phi
Phi island," she said.

"I didn't think it would be safe because of the
tremor we felt earlier and was worried about the
sea condition being rough on my children. The
hotel staff assured us that everything at sea was
fine, but still I wasn't convinced."

The family opted to go instead on a half-day tour
to an animal park inland, about half an hour's drive
from the coast.

"We were at Karon Beach waiting for three buses
to arrive and take us on the tour," she said. "The
third one was late, so we decided to go on the
second one. We later received word that the third
bus was missing underwater, with all the other tour-
ists in it. I can't imagine what could've happened if
we'd waited for it and my children were playing on
that same strip of beach half an hour later."

The tsunami struck at around 8am, by which time
the family would have been on a boat had they gone
ahead with their original plans. Their bus driver was
alerted by hotel staff, who called his mobile after the
tidal wave struck, telling him to get to safer ground.

"Our bus driver took us to higher ground, so that we
wouldn't be engulfed in the waters," said Ms Abedeen.
She said they stayed on a mountain for almost 12
hours ...

- - -