On the unfortunate morning of 26th December 2004, Thailand witnessed one of the worst natural disasters, a tsunami, that wiped out entire cities and took a quarter of million innocent lives.
The tsunami was the deadliest in recorded history, taking 230,000 lives in a matter of hours.
The most affected countries were India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The Effects on Khao Lak
Among the worst affected cities in Thailand was Khao Lak. The city was inhabited by hundreds of tourists who had come to celebrate Christmas and chill on the beaches of Thailand. At 7:59 am, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake- the third-largest magnitude ever recorded after the Chilean quake of 1960 and the Prince William sound quake of 1964- shook the seafloor of the Andaman sea and rumbled off the west coast of Sumatra.
The earthquake caused an enormous rupture in the earth’s crust that was as deep as 30 km below due to which the wave penetrated over 1 km inland and caused massive damage.
Some tourists managed to capture the ginormous wall of water that swept everything that came in its way. The waves were so vigorous that they swept the boat away almost 2 km inland.
Since most of the lives lost were in Khao Lak, memorials have been built in the city to commemorate the death of the victims and pay respect to them.
Khao Lak Tsunami Memorial
This international tsunami museum in Khao Lak was created by the Department of Psychology at Western Washington University in association with the local authority. It is located in Banf Niang, along Phetkasem Road (the large main road that links Phuket to Ranong).
The place is very close to Khao Lak and can be easily reached on a tuk-tuk. The memorial tells the tale of the horrific event of 2004. Besides that, it seeks to educate the visitors on how tsunamis are caused and what can an individual do to mitigate the loss and harm caused due to it.
The center of attention of the Khao Lak Memorial is the Police Boat 813 that was on royal duty guarding Her Royal Highness Ubonrat Rajakanya Siriwaddhana Phannawaddee who was staying in a nearby Flora resort and jet skiing at the time.
The boat stands there as a voucher of how immensely powerful and destructive the Tsunami waves were.
(The Remains of Police Boat 813)
Some experts were of the opinion that the 2004 Tsunami waves carried the energy of around 23,000 Hiroshima bombs.
No wonder it caused so much destruction and took so many lives.
In order to reminisce the plight of the victims and pay respect to them, other memorials have been built in Khao Lak. One of them is the Baan Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Park with plaques on behalf of victims and sometimes their photos.
Official Figures Released by Government
It is believed that the actual numbers were more than the official data as many deaths remain unaccounted for due to the lack of proper records. However, the official numbers released by the Thai Government are not any less disturbing. They are as follows:
- Confirmed dead: 4,812
- No. of People Injured: 8,457
- No. of People Missing: 4,499
1.Where did the 2004 earthquake hit?
It struck 150 miles from the coast of Sumatra island
2.Is there an entry fee to visit the memorial?
There is a nominal entry fee of 100 TBH that is utilized to help the family of the tsunami victims.
3.Is it safe to visit the Khao Lak area after the tragedy of 2004?
Yes, It is completely safe to visit Khao Lak. After the 2004 accident, several Tsunami shelters have been constructed and special alarm systems have been devised to avert any such unfortunate events.
4. At what time of the day is the Khao Lak Memorial open for visitors?
It is open from 9 am in the morning to 9 pm at night for visitors.
5. How can a visitor to the Khao Lak Memorial help the victims of the 2004 Tsunami?
You can donate money or even buy memorial merchandise as a souvenir. All the money that is received through the fees or donation is used to help the victim and their families.
Editor - Thailand Nomads
Cindy quit her 9 to 5 job to pursue her passion for exploring mesmerizing locations in Thailand. She has been living here for the past 5 years now and through Thailand Nomads, she shares her experiences and insights about the must-visit places in Thailand.
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