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,

Cambridge Edition - - CONVERSATIONS -

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.

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