Couple escape force of deadly tsunami
Families and friends of people caught in a major tsunami 13 years ago waited in hope of hearing from their loved ones, as discovers for our series,
On Boxing Day, 2004, the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph became one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
It killed thousands of people in 14 countries, inundating coastal communities with tsunami waves up to 30 metres tall.
Indonesia became the hardesthit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.
But for Cambridge couple Richard and Elizabeth Wong, like so many others who had relatives in those countries, the wait for news became an unbearable time.
The Wong’s daughter Patricia and her husband Andrew Khan had delayed their honeymoon in Thailand until the Christmas break and found themselves in the middle of the disaster.
The couple’s story recorded in the Cambridge Edition, January 19, 2005, reveals a change of plans may have been a lifesaver.
The had initially booked into a resort in the Maldives, later hit by the tsunami, but changed their minds and tried to book into a beachfront resort in Phuket.
They found it was already booked out and again changed their plans.
The couple settled on a resort about 100 metres inland from the beach.
Andrew Khan relaxed in the pool waiting for Patricia to join him when he noted some brown smelly water flowing into the grounds.
He thought it was a broken main but the water continued to rise.
He realised the situation was serious and the couple headed back to their room to collect their things.
In their room, the second wave struck, smashing the ranchslider.
They grabbed what they could, fled to the roof where they stayed in 33 Celsius degree heat until rescued.
Thankfully, one of them grabbed a drink bottle on the way out of their room.
On the roof, Andrew borrowed a cell phone and called his father in New Zealand to advise they were okay. The message was passed onto the Wongs.
Survivors were rescued and transported by bus to the other side of the island.
Shaken by the ordeal they completed their honeymoon returning to Cambridge in mid-January 2005.