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Sunday, December 26, 2004

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Thailand resorts hit by floods

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Thailand resorts hit by floods: "Thailand resorts hit by floods
Thailand resorts hit by floods
At least 257 people died and 1,000 were injured after the massive sea surges caused by an earthquake smashed into Thailand's western coast.

The worst hit areas were on beaches near Phuket, with reports of divers and sunbathers being swept out to sea.

Hotels were under water after 5m-10m (16 to 33 feet) waves hit the coast and there were reports of tourist bungalows being carried away by the water.

Tourists spoke of their disbelief at the scale and speed of the disaster.

"The beach is a disaster now with all of the local restaurants and beach chairs businesses totally destroyed," one reader in Phuket told the BBC News website.

One hotel worker in Phuket said the tide of water flooded the hotel lobby and pulled furniture onto the street.

"As I was standing there, a car actually floated into the lobby and overturned because the current was so strong," Boree Carlsson told Reuters news agency.

Thai officials said the toll was expected to rise because scores of people were still missing.

There were particular fears for divers, since the tidal wave hit when hundreds of tourists and instructors were in the water for a Boxing Day dive.

Woke up to see a wall of water, trees and cars coming towards us very quickly
Chris Anderson, Phuket
Up to 80 divers were reported to be trapped in the famous Emerald Cave, which divers can only reach by swimming underwater.

On the island of Koh Phi Phi, made famous as the location for the 2000 film "The Beach", officials spoke of widespread damage and islanders and tourists being airlifted to safety.

One report from the island said 200 bungalows had been swept out the sea.

Tourism is one of Thailand's most important industries, with hundreds of thousands of Western and Asian tourists drawn to its beaches each year.

In neighbouring Malaysia, at least 20 people were reported killed after the tidal waves hit. Most of the dead were in the holiday resort of Penang.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/12/26 12:05:26 GMT

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