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Updated: 12/27/04

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Monday, 27 December, 2004

Horrific news out of South Asia. A massive earthquake (upgraded to 9.0) hit just off the Western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, causing a series of huge tsumanis to devastate the Indian Ocean coastlines. Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India were particularly hard hit, with a current estimate of 23,000 dead.

Twenty-three Thousand. That is an unreal number. And I don't think for a minute that it will stop there. Fifty thousand? Could very well be. Or higher. The stories of survivors make it all the more amazing that anyone was able to live through it. Command Post has a round-up of stories - here are some excerpts:

Earthquake Updates: First Person Accounts

"First of all we climbed up into a tree for a couple of minutes, but then that began to fall down because of the water. We were swept along for a few hundred meters, trying to dodge the motorcycles and the refrigerators and the cars that were coming with us. Finally, about 300 meters inshore, we managed to get hold of a pillar, which we held on to, and then the waters just gradually began to subside.."

Simon Clark, a 29-year-old photographer from London who vacationing in Thailand on Koh Ngai island near Krabi, told Reuters: "Suddenly this huge wave came, rushing down the beach, destroying everything in its wake. People that were snorkeling were dragged along the coral and washed up on the beach, and people that were sunbathing got washed into the sea."

An account from a Washington Post reporter who was there:

I was a quarter way around the island when I heard my brother shouting at me, "Come back! Come back! There's something strange happening with the sea." He was swimming behind me, but closer to the shore.


Then I noticed that the water around me was rising, climbing up the rock walls of the island with astonishing speed. The vast circle of golden sand around Weligama Bay was disappearing rapidly, and the water had reached the level of the coastal road, fringed with palm trees.

John Krueger, 34, of Winter Park, Colorado, described being inside his bungalow Sunday on Khao Luk Beach, north of Phuket, with his wife, Romina Canton, 26, of Rosario, Argentina, when the water filled it and blew it apart.

"The water rushed under the bungalow, brought our floor up and raised us to the ceiling. The water blew out our doors, our windows and the back concrete wall. My wife was swept away with the wall, and I had to bust my way through the roof,".

Unfortunately the death toll will only go up, as disease and lack of food and water add to the problems. I haven't been to the Indian Ocean, but many of the places where we stay in South-East Asia are similar in topography. I can only imagine what a 10- to 15-meter wave would do to some of the resorts in Borneo, Bali or PNG. Very frightening.

Here's an amazing quote from Hassan Sobir, high commisioner of the Maldives:

"The entire Maldives, I think, for a moment disappeared from the planet Earth," he said. "Some islands may have completely disappeared, we don't know yet. But all the islands have been affected."


One of the most disturbing things about this, however, is how the American media really didn't make a big deal out of this at first. Of course I wasn't watching TV much yesterday, but if there were 23,000 Americans killed in a disaster like this, don't you think they would cover it?


Gary was on call this weekend, so after cooking for a few hours on Friday, I headed over to Chez Trauma. We read and watched TV Friday and Saturday, opening stockings and presents on Christmas morning. I got some lovely things off my wish list - books, DVDs, a sweatsuit outfit, and a great raincoat from Mom and Dad, plus some unexpected items: a new dive computer from Gary and a lovely carved wooden cat from Thailand, again from Mom and Dad. It has taken up residence in the niche above the fireplace.

Christmas Eve and Christmas were pretty un-traumatic, luckily. Gary finished up rounds on Sunday and I went home and started cleaning. I had to clean out the new vacuum cleaner - it was clogged with dust - and vacuumed and mopped the gallery and hardwood floors. That took a couple of hours - ugh. It should be easier going forward, as long as I keep after them.

[Or get a cleaning service.]

I was vacuuming the kitchen floor and when I turned off the machine, I heard Suki giving a very plaintiff meow. I called to her and she cried louder until I found her perched about 15 feet up in the window sill of one of the upper living room windows. She had gotten across the beams and jumped . . . and apparently was a bit less sure about making the return leap. We laughed at her for a while and a couple of minutes later she was back down again - leaving dusty kitty paw prints across the clean floor.

I windexed the Master Bedroom windows - it was so cold the cleaning spray froze on the outside, but they look better. I took the screens into the shower and scrubbed them there - it's nice to have that big shower room. Gary came home and we took a trek over to Ikea (too crowded) and Lowe's. We bought a snow shovel, salt, a trash can, a hack saw and some wire hanging shelves to put up inside the pantry doors. Gary installed the shelves while I warmed up some leftover chicken and ribs for lunch.

After lunch, he sawed off part of the curtain rod and reinstalled the drapes so that we have one continuous curtain rod going across the sliding glass doors in the den. We began watching the first installment of the new expanded "Lord of the Rings" DVD set that Mom and Dad gave to Gary for Christmas. I think the total expanded viewing time is something like 15 hours - may take us a while to get through it.

We continued putting away and organizing the study. We finally got enough room to roll out the new Ikea rug that Gary bought - looks and feels nice. Suki followed us around for a while, but she gets a little tired traipsing up and down the stairs. Just when she thinks we're all settled in one of the rooms, we get up and leave. When she gets tired - or maybe just overwhelmed - she goes back to her kitty bed outside our bedroom and takes a nap. Very cute.

Speaking of tired, it will be nice when one day we can come home and not work.

[Someday . . .]

Woke up this morning to find about a half inch of snow on the ground. It was pretty light and fluffy and we decided not to shovel. I may regret that later. It is supposed to stay in the twenties for a couple of days.


Quote du jour:

"OCEAN, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man -- who has no gills."

-- Ambrose Bierce

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