Rescue operation slow in Phang Nga

  • Nation
  • Monday, 03 Jan 2005

FAMOUS beaches in Phuket such as Patong, Kata and Karon are being cleared swiftly to attract tourists back. 

But 100km to the north of Phuket, in the mainland Thai district of Phang Nga that was worst hit by the killer waves on Dec 26, recovery work seems to be moving slowly.  

Hundreds if not thousands of bodies could still be buried under rubbles in the Khao Lak beaches of Phang Nga. 

More than 70 resorts at new tourist destination Khao Lak were destroyed.  

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had admitted during his visit to Phuket on Wednesday night that more heavy equipment was needed to help clear the rubble.  

This beach resort in the Phang Nga area was completely destroyed by the tsunami

Much attention was focussed on Phuket, where some 300 bodies had been recovered as at yesterday.  

The death toll in Phang Nga has hit 4,000.  

Malaysian Ngu Ming Hock, who survived the tsunami said help came to Phang Nga two days, too late.  

“I saw so many bodies in the resort in Khao Lak, where I was working. There were so many dead and injured people. But official rescue operations in the area only began on Tuesday,” he added.  

Ngu said locals and foreigners tried their best to help the injured. 

“We were on our own. We were hiding on the hills when we heard that another round of waves would be hitting the shores again.  

“We were lucky because locals staying up in the hills gave us food,” he said.  

Praprut Khorpetch, the manager of Khaolak Laguna and Khao lak Bhandari resorts, said all the 5,290 rooms along the 30km stretch were fully booked for the Christmas and New Year holidays.  

“There were at least 10,000 people in the area when the tsunami hit,” he said, adding that rescue and operation centres should have been based in Khao Lak. 

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s grandson Poom Jensen, who was killed in the tsunami, also owned a resort in Khao Lak.  

Poom’s mother Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya had opened the royal resort just two days before the killer waves arrived. 

It is learnt that Princess Ubolratana was also staying at the resort on that fateful day. But she was ushered to higher ground immediately after her bodyguards noted the raging waves.  

Poom was engulfed by the waves. His body was found not far from his shattered resort.  

Among those still missing are Malaysians Dr Lim Fang Kan, Rohayu Abdul Rahman, Chuah Poh Chin and Norhaslinda Mohd Ramli.  

Ismail Shafie, 55, and Norama Pong Din, 42, who were reported missing earlier, have called their children to let them know they were safe.  

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