Dave and I visited Phuket, Thailand, in January 2006. This was a year after the tsunami (12/26/04); our hotel was booked to only about 70 percent of capacity and massive damage from the 10 meter-high wave was still visible along the shore.
US officials knew soon after the Sumatra earthquake that a tsunami would follow, but the Indian Ocean was not monitored at the time and the officials didn’t know whom to alert.
Although less devastating than in Indonesia, the country hit hardest, Thailand lost many people that day-of the 259 dead, 1111 injured and 700 missing in Phuket were many Scandinavian tourists. Poomi Jensen, the son of the Thai princess, was among the people who died that day. There had not been a tsunami in recent years and few people recognized the warning signs or were aware of the imminent danger. The sea receded, as if it a gigantic vacuum had sucked it back; minutes later, it roared toward land, trapping swimmers and people along the shore.
Many onlookers-curiosity seekers filming the wave-lost their lives as did women and children, waiting along the shore for the fishing boats to return. In open sea, tsunami waves are imperceptible. Many fishermen returned to find their homes destroyed, their families gone.