Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Teves 5765 - January 5, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Thousands of European Vacationers on Warm Asian Beaches Meet a Bitter End

By Arnon Yaffe, Paris

Thousands of Europeans seeking refuge from the dismal northern winter were swallowed up by the tidal wave of death. The expensive, long-awaited vacation in luxury seaside hotels turned into a nightmare. "Now I know what hell looks like," said one Austrian survivor flying into Paris. "A mass of ocean waves sweeping away people, animals, garbage, cars and parts of destroyed houses. Everything except for birds, and leaving behind a grey desert from which the stench of death rises."

The majority of the dead and missing on the beaches of Thailand are Europeans. According to estimates thousands of Europeans were among the 150,000 dead. In a national address President Chirac offered to set up a "humanitarian intervention force." Even in the face of tragedy the United Nations and France are exchanging accusations with the United States over who is more generous. After being accused of "stinginess" an American diplomat said France is giving less than the US and talking more. France is contributing 41 million euro. Not just nations, but people appalled at what they see alleviate their feelings of distress by making donations.

In addition to the known 700 European dead, 3,500 Swedes, 1,500 Germans, 800 Norwegians, 500 French, 500 British and 400 Danes have been reported missing. Nobody knows exactly how many people were swallowed up by the sea. Based on flight logs, 20,000 Swedes were on the island of Phuket in Southern Thailand alone when the tidal wave hit. Every day the sea continues to spew out unidentifiable bodies.

Thailand Prime Minister says 5,300 people are still missing. In Phuket bulletin boards were erected with photographs of missing persons and bodies found. Tourists who lost a child or spouse searched in growing despair among the bodies. Thai authorities began to burn corpses regardless of their origins in order to prevent epidemics. Thousands of bodies of Western tourists were impossible to identify.

Thailand instructed Europeans to leave the country. Despite the catastrophe new groups of tourists have already arrived at the largely destroyed sites. Europe One radio reported a group of French tourists was swimming at the beaches of Phuket as if nothing unusual was happening. They were unafraid to travel to the area from Northern Thailand after the tidal wave struck.

Swedish Prime Minister Guran Peterson said this is the worse tragedy Sweden has known in many years and affects nearly every home. In a rare radio address King Karl the 16th offered his condolences to the mourning families. Swedish newspapers print photographs of children found alive for relatives to identify. One 14-month-old Swedish baby was found in Kao Lak, Thailand, where 4,000 people were killed. At the hospital a dozen desperate parents checked to see whether he might belong to them. Eventually his father, who was lying in the same hospital, identified him. The mother is still missing.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.