Water.It's 4:30 am and I have to work tomorrow, but I stayed up to watch a documentary about the 2004 tsunami.
We all know the facts and have seen the pictures, but this news channel had footage I personally hadn't seen before. A Thai filmed the wave coming from a safe spot on a peninsula just above the beach. The water pulled back and people started to wade out, fascinated by what was going on. The people on the hill spotted the wave and tried to warn the dozens of people down on the beach, but they didn't hear them.
A few seconds later the wave crashed and swallowed all those people who had stood there a moment before. And the wave didn't stop! It was brown, dirty, so fast and so powerful. It didn't stop. None of those people had run.
My aunt, uncle and little cousin were in Thailand that day. They were at the beach when my aunt saw the water pull back. I don't know if she knew what was happening or if she just sensed something was wrong, but she screamed at my uncle to get the passports while she grabbed my cousin and started to run up a hill.
Along with a few others, they reached a platform on the hill and most people stayed there feeling safe. My aunt, however, didn't and continued to run. My cousin said that the last thing she remembers after feeling her mother drag her up the hill further was seeing the wave swallow said platform along with all those who had felt safe. I don't think they ever saw them again.
I knew that especially my cousin is traumatized and I am eternally grateful that they survived. But until today, I think, I was oblivious to the intensity of the trauma they endured, I had no idea what they saw there. Just watching those pictures for a few hours made me physically ill. 230,000 people. I can't believe how lucky those three were. How lucky I am to still have them in my life.
I have never been a fan of sensationalist photos, but I am not sure this is one of them.