31. December 2004 · Comments Off on A Most Gruesome Task · Categories: General

Steve Park supplies this first-hand account of the rescue/cleanup work after the tsunamis on Phuket:

We stopped at a hastily arranged rescue center along the side of the road. Across the road were hundreds of bodies lined up, most left in the sun because all the trees are gone and they only had one awning to erect to provide a little shade. The sight and stench were horrible.

We put big gobs of Vicks VapoRub up our nostrils and started helping bag the bodies. But the pick-up trucks kept coming, bringing more bodies faster than we could wrap them in plastic and bed sheets (there were no proper body bags).

Later in the morning, some Thai rescue teams arrived and took over our work. By early afternoon, more awnings arrived and some body bags arrived. We then walked back towards the hills, behind the large naval boat that was washed over a kilometer from the beach.

We found several bodies in the debris back on the hill. Later, walking back towards the beach, the smell of decaying bodies buried under the rubble was everywhere. But there is so much debris, that heavy equipment will be needed to remove it. One rescue team from Taiwan was digging through rubble by hand and recovered one body. At one point, people started screaming and yelling, “the water is coming.”

The death toll now stands at over 150,000.

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