Official government estimates marked 5,078 confirmed dead, another 8,457 injured and 3,716 missing, presumed dead, in Thailand all lost to the tsunami that struck in the morning on Dec 26, 2004.
While confirmed deaths in Phuket were only 259, another 700 remained listed as missing.
Phang Nga, however, bore the brunt of the tsunami, with 4,163 people confirmed dead and another 2,113 recorded as missing. Records mark that of those killed in Phang Nga by the tsunami 2,213 were foreigners – mostly tourists. Most of those were killed at Khao Lak.
The fishing village Baan Nam Khem also stood out among the areas most affected. The village was devastated by the onslaught of the waves.
“The tsunami disaster on December 26, 2004 caused damage to the lives and properties of Thai people in Bang Muang Subdistrict. and other subdistricts in Takuapa District. Among those were both Thai and foreign tourists traveling at that time,” Mr Phiphat said.
“The tsunami was like never before. It was the first time Thailand had suffered such an experience. No one expected it to happen. There was no knowledge and a lack of preparation in dealing with such disasters.” he added.
“Even though it has been 18 years since the tsunami, the damage and loss that it caused still has not been erased from the heart and the memory of the people, both those who lived through the disaster firsthand and those in many countries around the world who learned about it through the media,” Mr Piphat said.
“I would like to offer my condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones, and following such experiences, we must be prepared to deal with various events. We must always be strong and conscious,” he said.
Last year, Mr Phiphat led the official ‘Soul of the Sea’ remembrance ceremony held on Patong Beach.
As the sun set today, Phuket officials and Patong Municipality had yet to announce any memorial services to be held in Phuket.
Each year people in Phuket wanting to remember loved ones lost to the devastating waves that struck our shores in 2004 gather on Patong Beach near Loma Park to place lit candles in the sand ‒ a tradition that began as the ‘Light Up Phuket’ event, born in the years immediately following the Asian Tsunami.