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Hundreds of Thai tsunami victims yet to be identified, 15 years on

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Hundreds of Thai tsunami victims yet to be identified, 15 years on

By Prapan Chankaew

 

2019-12-16T063619Z_1_LYNXMPEFBF097_RTROPTP_4_TSUNAMI-THAILAND.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Families of tsunami victims light candles during a vigil as part of a ceremony commemorating the first anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami on Patong beach in Phuket, Thailand December 26, 2005. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

 

TAKUA PA, Thailand (Reuters) - Fifteen years after the Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 230,000 people on Boxing Day, 2004, a cargo container at a police station in southern Thailand bears witness to the hundreds of victims whose remains were never identified.

 

Inside are personal items - wallets, documents, electronics, all bagged and labeled as evidence - that police hope might one day help to give a name and a proper resting place to those buried nearby in graves marked only by numbers.

 

"There are still more relatives of the victims, both near and far, that have hopes of finding their lost loved ones," said Colonel Khemmarin Hassini, deputy police commander in Takua Pa district, one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami.

 

Triggered by a massive 9.1-magnitude earthquake, the tsunami killed more than 230,000 people as waves as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) crashed onto the shores of more than a dozen countries, wiping some communities off the map in seconds.

 

In Thailand, where more than 5,000 people died, the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) unit involving police and forensic experts from 30 countries was able to identify more than 3,600 bodies in under two years, the largest and most successful project of its kind.

 

Colonel Khemmarin was part of that international team, but he said 15 years later a lot of the "communication channels have shut down" and leads had been lost.

 

"If we are determined enough and reactivate our operations once again, I think some of the 340 unidentified bodies could be identified," he told Reuters in Takua Pa town.

 

Hin Temna, 76, who lives in nearby Ban Nam Khem village, lost seven family members killed and his oldest daughter remains missing. They were among more than 1,500 people from the village who died in the disaster.

 

"There's no use to keep hoping (I will find my daughter). I don't think we will," he said.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-12-16
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There must have been thousands who were washed out to sea and never seen again or accounted for. Let,s hope nothing like this happens again !

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17 hours ago, unamazedloso said:

i was in khaolak when it hit and miraculously survived with my gf at the time and her friend purely becuse we slept in from partying the night before. Had we gone to work we wouldnt be here today. Everything around us dissapeared in to the sea. We were stuck where we were for another 48 hours and i can still smell the death to this day. I helped locals find family and drag out the deceased and went through morgs looking for peoples loved ones. Was insanely gruesome. Heart goes out to those touched by this event.

Hope karma has paid those a visit who chose to loot and steel. Was absolutely herendous!!

I always wondered about Khao Lak, the worst hit in Thailand. I was there 2 weeks before the tsunami and wondered if everyone I'd seen had been killed. Everyone on the beach area killed?

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2 hours ago, phantomfiddler said:

There must have been thousands who were washed out to sea and never seen again or accounted for. Let,s hope nothing like this happens again !

Considering the last report that most of the early warning systems are not working and not maintained, odds are it will happen again.

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I didn't see any videos of the impact on Khao Lak but it was very bad, a navy boat was washed about 1km onshore, still there when i went in 2008

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Billions given in aid and so much of it just vanished. An external audit should be carried out but sadly it never will plus the life expectancy of any external auditors is zero. 

 

Such dispicable people. 

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29 minutes ago, Scot123 said:

Billions given in aid and so much of it just vanished. An external audit should be carried out but sadly it never will plus the life expectancy of any external auditors is zero. 

 

Such dispicable people. 

I gave some money also, probably got diverted to dodgy people

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