My friend Jes had lived in Khao Lak before moving to Phuket. She has
many good friends there. We heard Khao Lak got hit hard, so we went to
deliver some supplies, see if we could help, and bring Jes to see her
friends as phone lines were down and she had no idea who was still alive.
We saw many dead bodies, most beyond recognition or identification. They were bagging them because most were too bloated to fit in the wood caskets. We tried to find out what or how the identification process worked, but it wasn't clear. My other friend Chaya had worked a couple days at a rescue center and was in charge of photographing corpses, she said they were collecting photographs along with dna & hair samples, personal artifacts and finger prints... but as time goes on, I *think* they are giving up on this process.
We asked the driver of a truck full of bodies where they were going, he said to the temple to burn them... I inquired about the identification process before burning them, he either didn't want to answer or couldn't speak English well enough to understand my questioning, I asked several of the other guys, got Jes to translate, I couldn't get a clear answer. Jes said they were just going straight to burning the bodies without ID. I couldn't bring myself to believe this.
After viewing the "wall of the missing", you get a feel for how important it is to have closure, just to know with 100% certainty the situation of a loved one. Even if dead, at least you won't wonder for years to come if just maybe they got washed up on some deserted island or are still in the mountains with a broken leg, but alive. You can put all questions to rest and move on. I struggled with this, what could I do, should I go police them and make sure the identification process is still taking place, and being done so correctly, do I have a role in this? a responsibility? Do I make it my responsibility?
Thousands got washed out to sea and will never be found, does it really matter if the few more that are being found are identified? If you collect dna, how do you match it? against what? how is that all done? Dental records? how would we do that? These questions continued to grow and became very difficult for me, but I kept concluding that there must be some high level people who are on top of this and getting these things done... Maybe they are sitting in remote air conditioned underground bunkers smoking cigars and managing whole teams of lab technicians plugging away on the database.
We visited Jes's friends house, what
can one say. These were Jes's neighbors and friends. But we were
relieved that we did manage to find some of her other friends alive and
their houses still standing, luckily on slight hillsides. One girl was
at the beach and got swept 1.5 km inland... and survived. This was the
only way for Jes to communicate with these people, face to face, they
have no mobile phones, so we were all pleased that some good fortune
came from such otherwise hopeless despair.
It was another example of Thai culture.
Any American doing such work realizing a camera was on them would act
out the scene, I mean, who would want to be captured bright eyed and
cheery amongst bags of corpses? CNN certainly wouldn't show images of
rescue workers flashing P-Diddy style gangsta poses, that would cut down
on donations. Thai's don't take life as a right, but as a gift, and
they celebrate it. It doesn't show disrespect to the unfortunate, it
shows a genuine sense of respect for humanity and a happiness we should
all have for still being alive. I made it a point to try and not censor
my photos or put a slant on them in any way.
|11th Jan 2005, Hector Garza of Mexico comments on this gallery||www.voidmemory.com|
|Here in Mexico, we have seen countless videos about the tragedy that struck Asia... but none of them are as heart and soul moving as the photos you have taken.|
|15th Jan 2005, Visavakorn Toongtong (korn) of Thailand comments on this gallery||www.mrthanwa.7h.com|
|I came back from Phang nga 0n the 25th at 7:00pm|
It's true! After that I came back to Bangkok (my home town) and gave donations to Phang Nga.
|21st Jan 2005, c of United States comments on this gallery||www.tunefilter.com|
|good range of photos. a couple days after I saw the photo of the police boat 2km inland here, I caught the same boat/view on a CNN or MSNBC or similar show. |
|24th Jan 2005, Dusty Eatman MD of United States comments on this gallery|
|Heart Wrenching to say the least. May they rest in Peace and the Living Prevail.. I will keep them in my prayers...|
|4th Feb 2005, jeanette Moore of Australia comments on this gallery|
|Just wondering if anyone knows if Moi Vogel who was married to Christian Knott has been found as yet.Would someone please send me an email to let me know.She was from Pymble N.S.W and was staying at Khao Lak at the time of the tsunami|
|9th Feb 2005, Cindy Wolf of Undisclosed comments on this gallery|
|I can't begin to express how bad i feel for these people. May God be with them and keep them safe in his precious hands. I would so love to come there and help. Please give me imformation on how i can go about helping. I am so sorry for everyone who experienced this horrible tradgedy.|
|12th Feb 2005, Tara of United States comments on this gallery||www.xanga.com/ttodaara|
|I am going to Thailand in one month exactly to do whatever I can to help. These pictures really put it into perspective for me...and it's heartbreaking. I don't know if there's anyway for us to prepare ourselves for what we're about to encounter. Thank you for posting these pictures. [coming out and spending tourist dollars is the best way to help Thailand now, so you are doing well just at that. Once here, you can find other ways, there are many. - jeff]|
|26th Feb 2005, paul silva of Thailand comments on this gallery|
|It's hard to believe I am leaving on Phuket for 3 years, I seen the wave too coming. but on Khao Lak its really hard to believe|
|5th Apr 2005, afr of United States comments on this gallery|
|It is very hard to believe the destruction at KL but the thing is its happened before...A wave of the same exact hieght smashed Hilo,Hawaii(if you live in the USyou probably know were that is) in 1960 causing similar damage( you can look at photos at the Pacific Tsunami Museum Archives).|
|15th Jun 2005, John Moretti of United States comments on this gallery||www.operationplayground.org|
|I want to thank you for sharing your experience. I was in Khao Lak in January as a relief worker, and also saw first-hand this traumatic devastation. I am a professional photographer and a 12-year veteran of a fire department, but nothing prepared me for what I saw in Khao Lak. |
In November, 2005, I am returning to Khao Lak to rebuild playgrounds for the children that have lost their childhood. I have formed an organization and will leave my comfortable lifesyle in Palo Alto, CA, leave my job and make my way back. I look forward to my mission (non-religious) and am grateful that I have the ability to help those that will need it for years to come. You can visit my website (noted in the upper right corner of this message) to see my project. If anyone will be there in November-March and wish to help, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thanks again for your photos and story. Keep the vision alive and lets not let it fade away as it has already in the US media. Seems Michael Jackson gets better coverage. Such a shame.
Bless all those that seek help and to those that render it.
|20th Jan 2006, ken in Chiang Rai of Undisclosed comments on this gallery|
|thanks for posting the photos - very moving. wish I could have done something to assist.|
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