PHUKET: 'The Impossible' opens in US movie theatres on Friday, and it will spark renewed interest in the Indian Ocean tsunami and especially what happened to holidaymakers in Thailand.
Phuketwan would like to plead with Reuters, Associated Press, AFP and the other international news agencies to report the tsunami toll accurately, please.
The reason why Phuketwan can call out the big international news agencies and know with certainty that they have it wrong is that we checked the facts for ourselves.
We challenged the figures provided by the Thai Government on the first anniversary of the tsunami, and we proved they were wrong.
What's certainly true is that almost 5400 tourists, residents and Burmese construction workers perished when the wave swept in on December 26, 2004.
What's also true is that thousands of people were reported ''missing'' in the days after the tragedy.
However, the remarkable thing about the tsunami was the washing machine cycling of the currents after the big wave struck.
The circular motion took victims from one beach and deposited them at other beaches. It carried people from five-star hotels to where Burmese worker camps had been wrecked, it lifted villagers from their homes and dropped them in the jungle.
The result was that there were about 3000 unidentified bodies along Thailand's Andaman coast.
In reaction to the catastrophe, international teams from about 40 countries went to Phuket and began the process of identifying the bodies.
Most of those who remained ''missing'' were not ''missing'' at all. Their unnamed bodies had been found.
And gradually, as the days passed, the international group known as the Thai Tsunami Victim Identification unit gave them back their names.
By the end of the first year, the vast majority of the bodies had been identified. There was one small problem: few news organisations - apart from the Phuketwan team and the BBC - paid any attention.
The result? At the first anniversary commemoration on Phuket, when news organisations from all around the world sent reporters, a book was handed out containing the wrong tsunami toll details.
'One Year in Memory of Tsunami' states that the big wave killed 5395 people and left 2940 others still missing, 2023 of them Thais, plus 917 foreigners.
Another book 'Tsunami 2004 Nam Chai Thai,' combined dead and missing figures and reported: ''By adding the number of people registered as missing (2965) and assuming that they perished, the number of dead victims amounted to 8360.''
The truth is very different.
We know, because we checked with 14 embassies at the time - privacy conditions prohibited the release of an overall body count - and discovered the reality.
The South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong published the report. You'd think that the world's news agencies would also check it out for themselves.
But no . . . eight years on, they still kill off more than 2000 people who were not killed. And in doing that, they continue to overlook the remarkable forensic achievements of the international body identification team.
We followed the wonderful identification process in the years after the tsunami as it brought closure to families around the world.
And we are able to say with certainty that there are not 2800 ''missing presumed dead'' victims of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.
There were 5395 people killed in Thailand by the tsunami.
As at December 2009, there were 444 people still listed as ''missing''. . . with 398 bodies of remaining unidentified victims still buried in a special cemetery north of Phuket.
It's believed a few more have been identified since then.
Within days of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Reuters reports, actress Naomi Watts took part in a fundraising telethon spearheaded by George Clooney to help the millions of people from Indonesia to the east coast of Africa whose lives were shattered.
With the launch of a film providing an accurate depiction of what took place in Thailand, perhaps it's finally time the toll was also reported factually.