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Tourists are drawn to the trawlers at Nam Khem

Tsunami Boats Now Attract Tourists

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
TOURIST attractions with character are drawing visitors to Nam Khem, the fishing village on the Phang Nga coast that perhaps suffered most in the 2004 tsunami.

Two trawlers that were swept by the big wave through the rambling township have been repositioned on a patch of open ground.

One of them has not had far to come. It finished up nearby, in the backyard of a house.

The other had to be brought from its previous resting place, close to the main road several hundred metres away.

Krisana Sakorn, the ''Blue Angel,'' was docked at the local port when the wave appeared on the horizon.

A lone Burmese fisherman on board the vessel tried to steer it into the wall of water. The trawler was swept back through the village and remarkably, across open ground.

Along the way, a man grabbed hold of a tyre buffer on the side of the boat, holding his young daughter with his other hand.

All three survived their harrowing journey.

Sri Samut, ''the Demon,'' was less charmed.

The water carried it through the main part of the village, demolishing lightposts and cars and houses along the way.

Both boats weigh about 60 tons, and it is estimated that the ''Demon'' was responsible for taking about 100 lives on its short final journey.

Now the stories of both vessels are being told to passing tourists, who pauses to clamber over the vessels and have their photos taken.

Closer to the sea is a third boat, part of the official memorial to the 850 people who perished here, and the total number of 5395 victims in Thailand.

Visitors can also go sight-seeing at the local port nearby almost any day of the week as working trawlers dock and their crews unload catches of fish and seafood.

Life has returned to normal in Nam Khem, and it's just a little more than an hour by road from Phuket.

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