PHUKET, Thailand (AP) _ The images play over and over in Jasmin Hasic’s mind.
He is in a bungalow on a Thai beach with his wife Nadja. A towering wave crashes over them. He holds out his hand, but a wall collapses on her back and she’s pulled out to sea. She clings to a palm tree in the sea. He calls out her name. She doesn’t respond.
“This is in my head. … Every day, every day,” Hasic says. His wife survived, but the memories still keep him awake at night.
Jan. 3, 2005
PHI PHI, Thailand (AP) _ Luciano Butti walked across the sand, his eyes brimming with tears, as he looked at where his Ciao Bella once stood.
Gone were the tables, chairs and the pizza oven – only the wooden floor, a small part of a tiled wall, a scrap from a blue tablecloth and the restaurant’ blue, yellow and red sign remained.
But Butti saw the sturdy condition of the floorboards – the lone sign of business on a beach overshadowed by mountains of rubble – as an omen: He has to rebuild Ciao Bella (“Hello, attractive” in Italian).
“It’s still here,” he exulted, his high hopes tinged with sadness.
Jan. 8, 2005
They’re known as “the team that sleeps with the dead” — a group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish forensic workers who have matched body parts to identities after countless scenes of carnage in Israel.
Now in Thailand, they have only one way to describe the aftermath of the tsunami: a disaster, literally, of biblical proportions.
“Only during the great flood in Genesis have there been sights like this, so many corpses, so many,” said Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, a team leader. “We are experiencing … something from the days of Genesis.”
Jan. 8, 2005
BANG TAO, Thailand (AP) _ A Norwegian man nearly falls through a roof he’s trying to take apart. Two dust-covered Australian brothers clear rubble from a laundromat. A British woman helps knock down a wall.
This is no ordinary group of workers. Many are travellers-turned-volunteers who have traded their swimsuits, sandals and cocktails for shovels and boots to help rebuild Bang Tao, a town outside the southern Thai resort of Phuket levelled in last month’s tsunami.
“You don’t really want to be enjoying yourself while something like this is going on,” said Russell Kerr, of Maghera, Northern Ireland, who was at an all-night “full-moon party” on a Thai beach the day the tsunami hit.
Jan. 12, 2005
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) _ A few yards from where the female body in sweat pants was unearthed, a single grave marks where the brothers Risnaldi and Toni buried their mother and brother in the front yard of their nearly demolished home. Their sister, Ernita, 32, is among the missing, but they have stopped looking for her. A relative told them Ernita’s spirit came to her and said she was buried in a mass grave, which they believe. Enough time has passed.
But their brother-in-law, Masprapto, hasn’t come to terms with losing his wife of four years.
The discovery of the body in sweat pants drew him to the scene. He decided it wasn’t Ernita. She had been wearing brown sweat pants.
“I can’t say that she died,” he said softly. “My heart doesn’t allow me to.”
June 19, 2005