Report From Thailand of the Tsunami Experience
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GWEN IFILL: For a closer look at what the tsunami experience was like, we have a report from Adrian Britton of Independent Television News in Phuket, Thailand.
ADRIAN BRITTON: A mighty force rising out of the sea and crushing a resort. The tidal waves turned to torrents along the coastline of Phuket, lifting everything in their power. Crystal blue seas became muddy destructive rivers.
At night time with their hotels now debris, they sought higher ground for safety, sleep and warmth. The mortuaries were unable to accommodate the colossal toll of deaths. Body after body was laid out. Those who escaped, like this tourist from Oxford, had amazing tales of survival.
TOURIST: We all got out of our rooms, but one of our friends couldn’t get out of the room. He woke up and was asleep on his bed, woke up in the water; had to throw the TV through the window to climb out.
ADRIAN BRITTON: When the morning sea struck, many became separated from relatives. But with immense relief, were later reunited. For others, there were the memories of the desperate efforts of 9/11 with families bearing photographs of their lost ones in hopes they, too, would be found.
At Phuket Airport this evening, holiday makers roared across the departure hall waiting for the next flight home. The hospitals are inundated with more serious injuries. Others are living in relief agency tents. Their homes were swept away in furious seconds but they are thankful they have not lost more.
GWEN IFILL: At his meeting with reporters today Secretary of State Powell assessed the magnitude of the damage, and what it will take to repair it.
COLIN POWELL: Some twenty plus thousand lives have been lost in a few moments, but the lingering effects will be there for years.
Damage that was caused, the rebuilding of schools and other facilities will take time. So you need a quick infusion to stabilize the situation, take care of those who have been injured, get immediate relief supplies in, and then you begin planning for the longer haul.