2B newsfeed: Tsunami in Thailand – December 28, 2004

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December 28

11:37pm, December 28 - Casualty toll for foreigners in Thailand - AP
Many, many missing...

10:34pm, December 28 - Just like last night, the Public Relations Department (PRD) is about 24 hours behind in the info it reports. Right now, it is breathless reporting 700 have died and adds, almost as an apology, "this latest figure is higher than the earlier figure released by the Public Relations Department." The actual toll at this hour is 1538.

10:28pm, December 28
- Another photo gallery from Krungthep Turakij

Right: Channel 3 showing tourists making free phone calls home from the Thammasat University campus where many tourists are staying since they have returned to Bangkok.

10:02pm, December 28 - Translations from Thai-language newspapers: Matichon

* Maew [nickname of the Prime Minister Thaksin] stays to command relief workers. He cancels election campaign stops. The executive of TRT party makes an urgent order not to make speeches throughout the country for three days to honor the victims.

* At government house, the atmosphere is quiet and lonely. The Prime Minister and the vice PMs have canceled all their work, including making campaign speeches, to assist in relief efforts. Only Mr. Wisanu Kerngam and Mr. Purachai Piemsomboon, both deputy PMs are let to represent the government.

* The Trat provincial governor, Mr.Boonchuoi Kerdsukon, warns people to be careful although Koh Chang is not in the line of the tsunami danger. Thai and foreign tourists who want to come to Koh Chang panic and cancel their trips so the deputy chief of sub-Amphur put out a sign which reads “Koh Chang is safe “ to boost tourist confidence and keep up the image of tourism.

Left: Tawatchai Kemgumnerd's amazing aerial photo of the interior of Phi Phi Island on the front of the Bangkok Post.

9:47pm, December 28 - Latest official death toll in Thailand (from 9:00pm):


AP reported earlier tonight: Death toll could pass 2,000 as fields of death found north of Phuket

9:41pm, December 28 - News from Myanmar: Burma's Tidal Wave Death Toll 90 and Rising - The Irrawaddy
The huge tidal waves caused by Sunday's massive earthquake off Sumatra killed at least 90 people in Burma, according to reports compiled Tuesday. The death toll is expected to increase, say aid agencies...

9:24pm, December 28 - A pulled story from TNA/MCOT?

At around noon today this link led to this peculiar story:
PM expects all bodies to be recovered today
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra disclosed he expected relief officials would manage to recover all bodies of victims of the Sunday’s massive tidal wave attack today, except those remaining unaccounted for...

By the evening the original story had disappeared and the link led to this:
PM admits relief effort has struggled to cope
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has conceded that the post-tsunami rescue and relief effort has been severely hampered by a lack of appropriate equipment...

It looks like a hasty change as the formatting is disrupted (left).

8:56pm, December 28 - Scenes of horror at French-run hotel in Thailand - AFP

8:30pm, December 28 - Prime Minister Thaksin gives a 15 address to the nation about the situation (on all channels).

8:15pm, December 28 - More notable stories
Some 800 bodies found in Khao Lak area-French radio - Reuters
Reports: Hong Kong couple survives tsunami by clinging to mattress for six hours - AP

5:26pm, December 28 - Relief supplies and blood donation needed!
...We are also aware that the Red Cross is urgently seeking blood supplies, PARTICULARLY PEOPLE WITH NEGATIVE BLOOD GROUPS. The red cross is situated at 1871 Henry Dunant Road, just off Rama IV. Telephone numbers are: 02 256 4034, 02 256 4032, or 02 256 4033 - open from 8am.

2:24pm, December 28 - Useful contact numbers and websites for relief assistance - The Nation - Also this Panitp.com thread in Thai

12:10pm, December 28 - News from MCOT/TNA
Three-day mourning period for tidal wave victims and no countdown
Government spokesperson Jakrapob Penkhae declared three-day mourning period for disaster victims from December 28-30, 2004 after tidal waves killed an estimated 2,000 people in southern coastal regions, and asked the people to wear all black. Moreover, there would be religious ceremony throughout the country on December 30 at 7pm.
Besides lowering the flag at half-staff, the governmental offices canceled all the New Year celebrations and activities while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra would not attend any New Year countdown or celebrations.

Rumour on arsenal explosion in Phang-nga groundless
Rumours were flying this morning about an arsenal explosion near Khao Lak National Park in Phang-nga province this morning.
Rear Adm. Sirichai Kanitthakul, the Commander-in-Chief of the 3rd Fleet Royal Thai Fleet, confirmed to journalists that there was no explosion at the military depot.
Some people reportedly heard explosion sound in Phang-nga this morning, sparking rumours and panic that the arsenal near the Khao Lak National Park might had exploded, or possibily a gas explosion.

11:25am, December 28 - After disaster, Asia mulls early warning system - AP
...Officials in Thailand issued the only warnings of the impending disaster, but broadcasts beamed to tourist resorts in the country's south underestimated the threat and a Web site caution was not posted until three hours after the first waves hit.
Residents in Sri Lanka, where thousands were swept away or drowned, expressed disbelief that a warning system was in place elsewhere in the world but not in the Indian Ocean....
But the warnings came as the first waves hit. By the time a Web site warning went up three hours later, at least 700 people were dead in Thailand, including a jet-skiing grandson of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

9:02am, December 28 - Victim database - updated in real time (Thai-language)
Username: user, Password: password - This Narenthorn Center site has been up and down throughout the crisis.

9:01am, December 28 - Revised death toll
Revised death toll: 918 dead, 7396 injured
Interesting how news that is not in English can be invisible. The 866 death toll was posted at 6pm yesterday (December 27) on the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation website and this figure was broadcast around the world. At 9pm the same night, the figures were revised to 918. However, since the figures are on a Thai-language site, the international media did not pick it up and all the Thai newspapers were going to press at that time, so the world has to wait a further 12 hours (until the next morning) for the press to discover this new death count. Once AFP starts reporting this morning (as far as we know, there are no overnight wire reports from Bangkok), they are likely to be the first to publish it. Often the Thai-language press even follows AFP on breaking news.
Update: The Bangkok Post did mange to get the final death count into their December 28 edition.

The Nation's front page on December 27, 2004

9:01am, December 28 - Thai-language press round-up
* Krungthep Turakij disaster news roundup - The links on the left side are to photo galleries.
* Matichon disaster photo gallery - The Thai press disseminates gruesome photos, so beware of the several shots of dead tourists.
* The National News Bureau, which collects latest news from the Public Relations Bureau for broadcast in English, is shockingly behind in its reports. The latest reports are from Monday morning quoting figures from late Sunday that 289 have died.

8:10am, December 28 - News from MCOT/TNA
Marine police rescue stranded tourists
...Marine police, who were ordered this morning by Satun Governor Manit Wattanasen to rush to the rescue of domestic and foreign tourists still stuck on Koh Lipe and Koh Adang after yesterday’s tsunami tragedy, this morning managed to evacuate 173 tourists from Koh Lipe, of whom 60 were foreigners.
The remainder of the tourists are to be taken to safety by the end of the day...

Engineers join growing calls for tsunami warning centre
... Dr. Totrakun Yomnak, president of the Thai Engineering Institute, said that while he was reluctant to apportion blame for the huge loss of human life, officials had simply not warned the public in time.“I don’t want to blame the Meteorological Department for failing to issue warnings, as the department has no capabilities to measure earthquakes of this magnitude”, he said, noting that Thailand’s seismological research was concentrated in the northern region, where earthquakes had occurred in the past, whereas scant attention had been paid to the south.
...He also noted that Bangkok, while not in an area thought to be at risk from earthquakes, was also in a delicate position due to its weak land base and large number of tall buildings. Even a minor earthquake with an epicentre near Bangkok could be devastating for the capital, he said. Nonetheless, he confirmed that a disaster of a similar magnitude was extremely unlikely in the near future...

7:01am, December 28 - Updated quake info page and animated gif showing the tsunami moving through the Indian Ocean.

6:14am, December 28
- Hunt Is on for Dramatic Tsunami Pictures, AP
..."There will still be, I think, the definitive shot, the wall of water," Sandy MacIntyre, director of news for Associated Press Television News in London, said Monday.
...APTN is competing fiercely with another news agency, Reuters, to acquire video. APTN producers were sent to six airports in Europe and Asia on Monday to ask tourists if they had captured the scene on their home video cameras, MacIntyre said...

1:31am, December 28
- Phuket tsunami
Astonishing photos from an eyewitness. Photos 2-10 are a sequence showing the water rushing in. Notice at the end a man being swept along by the waves.

Left: Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet has an interesting photo from Phi Phi Island and a headline that reads "2000 persons still missing."(December 28, 2004).

12:35am, December 28 - Journalists cautioned - The Nation
...The TJA said that news coverage should select appropriate angles and respect the dignity of all those affected by the tragedy. It singled out for excoriation the Thai-language Daily News, which ran a photo on its front page yesterday of a female victim’s bare buttocks...

12:31am, December 28 - Warning rejected to protect tourism - The Nation
...“The very important factor in making the decision was that it’s high [tourist] season and hotel rooms were nearly 100-per-cent full. If we issued a warning, which would have led to evacuation, [and if nothing happened], what would happen then? Business would be instantaneously affected. It would be beyond the Meteorological Department’s ability to handle. We could go under, if [the tsunami] didn’t come,” said a source who attended the meeting...
Precisely at 9am that Sunday, waves as high as 3 to 10 metres hit the main southern coastal provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Ranong.

12:21am, December 28 - Ad for Tsunami Japanese Restaurant
2Bangkok.com had this piece of ironic news for about 24 hours and was only going to post it after the gravity of the situation subsided somewhat. However, The Nation published something about it today so there is no reason for 2B not to mention it. A reader wrote: The new 30-trip Skytrain card issued on Sunday features a big ad for the new Tsunami Japanese Restaurant in the Marriott Hotel. It lists their website as www.tsunamibangkok.com. Kind of tacky now, but they could not have known. [The website has been taken offline.]

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