Indian Ocean Tsunami – 10 years on

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, also known as the Boxing Day Tsunami. On Sunday, December 26th 2004 an earth quake measuring 9.2 on the richter scale, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia; caused a tsunami which cost the lives of 230000 people in fourteen countries in Asia and Africa.

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The bodies of tsunami victims who lost their lives in Khao Lak and Takua Pa were brought to local temples turned into makeshift morgues

I covered the immediate aftermath of the disaster un Thailand’s south for several British publications. It was a big turning point in my career, frustrated by the British and western media’s initial obsession with western-centric stories, I spent a lot of my own time concentrating on the local fishing village of Baan Nahm Kem, a village heavily affected by the tsunami. After my experience covering the disaster, I decided to move away from hard news and work more on long form features. I returned many times to Baan Nahm Kem in the months following the tsunami. The story “The fishing village” was the result of these trips.

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The devastation at Baan Nahm Kem village two days after the disaster.

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Met, a local fisherman was on his day off when the waves hit the village. His brothers, out at sea, radioed in saying the sea was behaving strangely, he decided to take the family’s second boat out to go and investigate, he was caught by the wave, the boat was smashed and he was eventually found unconscious, in a tree several hours later with, luckily, only a broken ankle and a few scratches. This photograph was taken 5 months after the tsunami

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Locals search for relatives’ names on a notice board at a temple.

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Five days on, and recovering in hospital with his son and daughter, this man still did not have the heart to tell his daughter that her mother was dead.

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Rescue workers carry the body of a victim 2 days after the disaster.

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On the moring of Dec 26 Chana was squid fishing 3 hours away from shore in his long tail boat with his brother, Man.
He saw a massive wave come from behind him, turned his boat around and miraculously managed to cut across the side of the wave and over it. The boat was damaged but still afloat.
Chana and Man returned to a scene of horror “All we could see was dead bodies and destroyed houses and boats, my first though was: where are my parents”. Chana lost countless friends in the disaster but incredibly all his family members were spared.

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When the wave came Pisek was enjoying a day off with his father. As he saw the wave, he ran to pick up his younger sister’s son and managed to escape the killer wave, his father could not run fast enough. Pisek described his late father as his best friend, a relationship developed over ten years of fishing together. He now goes out at sea with his younger brother Tanisak, who also survived the wave.