Saturday, January 01, 2005

Things you don't understand can kill you

I was horrified by the stories of the folks on the Indian Ocean beaches who thought it was neat the way the water suddenly went way out and ventured out to look at the rock formations and what not. Even if you didn't know what it meant, wouldn't you be a tad suspicious? Apparently, all but a few were not.

PHUKET, Thailand - Quick-thinking 10-year-old Tilly Smith is being hailed as a hero after saving her parents and dozens of fellow vacationers from the deadly tsunami - thanks to a school geography lesson.

Tilly warned the doubting adults at a resort that a massive tidal wave was about to strike - just minutes before the deadly tide rushed in and turned the resort into rubble. Tilly's family, from Surrey, England, was enjoying a day at Maikhao Beach last Sunday when the sea rushed out and began to bubble.

The adults were curious, but Tilly froze in horror.

"Mummy, we must get off the beach now!" she told her mother. "I think there's going to be a tsunami."

The adults didn't understand until Tilly added the magic words: "A tidal wave."

Her warning spread like wildfire. Within seconds, the beach was deserted — and it turned out to be one of the only places along the shores of Phuket where no one was killed or seriously injured.
Elders' Knowledge of the Oceans Spares Thai 'sea Gypsies' From Tsunami Disaster
Knowledge of the ocean and its currents passed down from generation to generation of a group of Thai fishermen known as the Morgan sea gypsies saved an entire village from the Asian tsunami, a newspaper said Saturday.

By the time killer waves crashed over southern Thailand last Sunday the entire 181 population of their fishing village had fled to a temple in the mountains of South Surin Island, English language Thai daily The Nation reported.

"The elders told us that if the water recedes fast it will reappear in the same quantity in which it disappeared," 65-year-old village chief Sarmao Kathalay told the paper.

So while in some places along the southern coast, Thais headed to the beach when the sea drained out of beaches - the first sign of the impending tsunami - to pick up fish left flapping on the sand, the gypsies headed for the hills.