KILLER WAVES

posted by / News / December 28, 2004

Ever wished you could surf a tsunami? Forget it.

For a photo gallery from the affected area, CLICK HERE.For more updates all day long, please visit the SURFING message board

Sunday’s earthquake and tidal waves have created what the UN is describing as the costliest natural disaster ever. The 8.9 quake was centered off the coast of Northern Sumatra – right on top of the fantasy wave zones of the Hinakos and the Mentawais — and the resulting tsunamis blazed a path of destruction throughout the coastlines of ten countries.

Luckily, at least for surfers, it’s the middle of the small surf wet season and surf charter activity in the Indian Ocean is minimal. “At least for us, it couldn’t have happened at a better time,” says Sean Murphy of Waterways Travel.

But for the residents of the regions affected by the disaster, it couldn’t have been much worse. The death toll stands at 24,000 and is likely to rise much higher. The earthquake was so strong it actually moved the huge island of Sumatra {{{100}}} feet to the Southwest. The tsunamis were even more powerful. Entire villages were erased from the land in seconds when huge ebbing tides were replaced by walls of water up to thirty feet high.

Here are brief reports of the current situation in surf areas that were hit:

Sumatra

This was ground zero of the earthquake. There are reports of extensive damage in Aceh province. There have been {{{5000}}} confirmed deaths but the Vice President of Indonesia, Yusuf Kalla, says that the toll could be as high as 25,000.

In Nias, the BBC claims that the island was swamped and initial reports suggest that at least 1800 people were killed. Max at Hinako Hideaway emailed that the tidal surge affected Asu but did not swamp the island.

Initial reports from the Mentawais suggest there has been flooding, but we do not yet know the extent of the destruction. Martin Daly, captain of the Indies Trader, reports “unusual tidal movement” from the tsunami at Padang Harbor, but no major damage.

No reports of trouble on Java, Bali, Lombok Sumba, Sumbawa or Timor.

Thailand

Huge devastation in the Phuket region. Murphy says that three surf charter boats, The Bohemian, The Freedom and The Pelagic, docked in Thai harbors, are safe. The boat captains recognized the tidal irregularities prior to the tsunami and booked it for deeper water. They returned to port later to witness the destruction.

Maldives

Two thirds of the capital, Male, are reported to be under water. Atoll Adventures says that Dhonveli Beach Resort, popular among surfers, suffered extensive damage that will take an estimated six to eight weeks to repair. Owner of the hotel and Maldives pioneer Tony Hussein was vacationing in, of all places, Sri Lanka. Hussein and his wife are said to be fine, but are currently unable to return because all of the airports in both countries are closed.

Sri Lanka

Atoll Adventures reports “many casualties” at the Arugam Bay surf village. Per Goodman, owner of Stardust guesthouse, has been reported missing.

Death toll stands at 13,000. More than a million people have been forced from their homes.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands:

2,000 confirmed dead.

SURFING would specifically like to thank Sean Murphy of Waterways Travel for the information provided in this report.

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