Elephants saved tourists from tsunami – 01/10/2005

  • October 1, 2013 at 10:32 pm #624

    Re: Did animals sense tsunami?

    Hi All
    I spotted this on my private email and thought it appropriate to
    post here.
    Elephants saved tourists from tsunami
    03 January 2005

    KHAO LAK: Agitated elephants felt the tsunami coming, and their
    sensitivity saved about a dozen foreign tourists from the fate of
    thousands killed by the giant waves.

    “I was surprised because the elephants had never cried before,”
    mahout Dang Salangam said on Sunday on Khao Lak beach of the eight-
    elephant business offering rides to tourists.

    The elephants started trumpeting – in a way Dang, 36, and his wife
    Kulada, 24, said could only be described as crying – at first light,
    about the time an earthquake measured at a magnitude of 9.0 cracked
    open the sea bed off Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

    The elephants soon calmed down. But they started wailing again about
    an hour later and this time they could not be comforted despite
    attempts at reassurance.

    “The elephants didn’t believe the mahouts. They just kept running
    for the hill,” said Wit Aniwat, 24, who takes the money from
    tourists and helps them on to the back of elephants from a sturdy
    wooden platform.

    Those with tourists aboard headed for the jungle-clad hill behind
    the resort beach where at least 3800 people, more than half of them
    foreigners, would soon be killed. The elephants that were not
    working broke their hefty chains.

    “Then we saw the big wave coming and we started running,” Wit said.

    Around a dozen tourists were also running towards the hill from the
    Khao Lak Merlin Resort, one of a line of hotels strung along the
    10km beach especially popular with Scandinavians and Germans.

    “The mahouts managed to turn the elephants to lift the tourists onto
    their backs,” Kulada said.

    She used her hands to describe how the huge beasts used their trunks
    to pluck the foreigners from the ground and deposit them on their

    The elephants charged up the hill through the jungle, then stopped.

    The tsunami drove up to 1km inshore from the gently sloping beach
    which had been so safe for children it made Khao Lak an ideal place
    for a family holiday. But it stopped short of where the elephants

    On Sunday, the elephants were back at work giving rides to the
    tourists on whom the area depends.

    German Ewald Heeg, who said he came from a small town near
    Frankfurt, said his charter company had offered his family – wife,
    two daughters and one of their boyfriends – the chance to go
    straight home, but he had turned it down.

    “Our family is OK so we stay here to make our holiday,” he said.

    “Today, we make a safari. We go by elephants at first, then we make
    a boat trip.

    (MikeC’s question: did the animals sense the electromagnetic waves that triggered the earthquakes, or the earthquakes themselves?)

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