Friday, 28 December 2012

Still powerful memory of tsunami

Villagers recall seeing monstrous waves heading towards their homes on Dec 26, 2004

SUNGAI PETANI: FOR 26 years, the sea was Mohamad Hasli's friend.   It was his playing ground since young and when he got old enough, he lived off it. As is true for any fisherman, he had his fair share of harrowing episodes, but he trusted the sea.

On Dec 26 eight years ago, that changed. The tsunami that hit his village, Kampung Kepala Jalan, left him so traumatised that he stayed away from the sea for six months after the horrific incident.

Now 34, Mohamad recalled how tidal waves pounded on his wooden house, destroying it.

"Everything happened so fast. Fortunately, my mother, along with the rest of my family members, managed to escape. I suffered frequent nightmares from then on. I did not have the courage to go back into the water. For six months I did odd jobs, including carpentry."

Another villager, 45-year-old Md Hafidzi Ismail said he remembered the screaming when villagers, most of them who were at a wedding feast on that day, saw a monstrous wave heading towards them.

"There were about 200 of us. We just panicked." Hafidzi said he was with his wife, Rosilah Saad, 41, and their four children when the first wave struck their village.

"It almost reached the groom's house which was about 20m from the beach. Seconds later, a bigger wave, 4m high, crashed onto the beach and flattened the groom's house and 10 other homes."

Hafidzi, his family and some neighbours in tow, rushed to their houses in nearby Kampung Tepi Sungai, located 50m away. It was then that the second wave hit them. When the water subsided, Hafidzi went on a frantic search for his family.

He rushed to his house and found his wife and eldest son, Mohd Hafiz Firdaus, who was 8 then, trapped under the rubble of their collapsed wooden house. He later found his other son, Mohd Hafiz Fitrid safe.

One of his two daughthers, Nur Hafizatul Fatihah, was found barely alive but her 11-month-old sister, Nur Hafizatul Fasehah, could not be located. Three hours later, a search and rescue party recovered the body of Fasehah.

A week later, Fatihah died.

Eleven people there died in the tsunami.

Besides the casualties in Kedah, the killer waves also killed 52 people in Penang, three in Perak and one in Selangor. Additional reporting by Nor Nadirah Ahmad



Post a Comment