For us right now, our time is 10 pm on boxing day, Sunday. Last night we awoke to earthquake tremors around 3 am. When Drew looked out the window, he saw nothing unusual. It hardly woke me. With Christmas excitement, and a sick Ike, we stayed in bed until around 10 am. We looked out the window as we were waking, and noticed an awful lot of boat activity around 10 am. Later we find out that this is the time of the tidal wave. We knew there had been a quake, or something, so we said we should check the internet for news. Well, we didn t.
At 4 pm we received two SMS messages asking us if we were okay. Without television, we wondered what was happening around us. We were fine, we had electricity, the construction workers were at work on the buildings beside us. We heard that 2/3 of Male was under water. Yikes, we thought, and here we were on our deck, completely oblivious. So we check a news site on the web, and then we go have a look.
Well, yes, some of the bricks on the ground had been wet in the previous few hours. Water had come in about a block inland. We walked along the dock, and all the many boats seemed completely unaffected. The small stores and warehouses on the dockside were all being cleaned out and mopped. Water had entered, and workers were removing boxes and merchandise to clean up the water damaged stock. These stores are lower than street level, and any water coming onto the street would enter. Walking along the dockside, we did eventually come across a portion of the seawall that had been undercut, tipping out to the ocean. This was in front of the Presidents office. Walking around the island, we saw evidence of sand in the streets, and some more brick upheaval. Looks like a very high tide, rather than a ten foot wall of water that we had read of occurring in other locations. We did not see broken glass in store fronts, no palm trees were damaged, nor were there any vehicles overturned or damaged. We did eventually see three boats that had come onto the road, the result of broken ropes. We were amazed that of all the hundreds of boats tied along the edge of the island, we only saw three boats on land. We also saw sandbags blocking up doors and storefronts, some of which were being placed while we walked. Apparently there is a chance of another big wave at the next high tide. We were unable to get weather reports from the net.
We did run into some of Drew s co-workers. The Maldivian Air Taxi s terminal and hanger sustained damage, with furniture washed out toward the runway. Only two airplanes sustained minor damage, but the competition did not fare as well. The hanger is a mess, parts and tools underwater, with seawater causing corrosion problems.
We hope that the islands have fared as well. Apparently for all the thousands of tourists that are here, no one has died as a result of the wave. One tourist from a heart attack. The newscasts say 14 locals were killed, all on the one island that was hit particularly hard. There have been many thousands of deaths as a result of this earthquake, with much damage, but not much of that has been here in Male or in the Maldives. Apparently one resort has sustained the loss of their water bungalows. Was it 14, or 40? Anyway, nothing compared to the horrific damage and devastation or the 5,400 total death toll from the South East Asia area.
We fear for the tourism trade here, and in particular for the operation of Maldivian Air Taxi. This will depend largely on the sensationalism from the media we suspect.
Drew and Kim