Survivor releases amateur video of Mentawai tsunami aftermath

The video also shows life at the resort before the Tsunami hit. Five days after a devastating Tsunami swept across the Indonesian archipelago of Mentawai a video shot by an Australian tourist who narrowly escaped the deadly wave has emerged on the Web.

The 3-meter high wave was triggered by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the western coast of the island of Sumatra on the night of October 26. The latest official death toll stands at 408, but disaster response officials believe it could top 600 as hope of finding the 303 people still missing fades. Almost 13,000 people have lost their homes and are living in makeshift camps on the island.

The Mentawais, a legendary destination for surfers, are an otherwise neglected and hard to reach part of Indonesia. In the immediate aftermath of the quake, damaged phone lines and a poor Internet connection made it almost impossible to reach survivors from the mainland or overseas.

Bad weather has hampered efforts to ferry aid such as tents, medicine, food and water to the islands by boat from the nearest port of Padang, which is more than half a day away, even in the best conditions.

Images and eyewitness accounts of the disaster have slowly begun trickling out as media crews reach the archipelago and tourists are repatriated. The following video was shot by Sebastian Carvallo, a tourist staying at the Macaronis surf resort, which was almost completely destroyed by the tsunami. It shows how the 20 staff and 17 guests on location when the wave hit were able to escape by running to the top floor of the resort’s main building.“We built the main building, which was designed to resist tsunamis, after the 2004 catastrophe”

Mark Loughran from Sisters Beach, Australia, is co-owner and manager of the Macaroni’s surf resort on Macaroni bay, which was one of the hardest hit by the tsunami. He has posted a call for donations on the resort’s website to help rebuild and find missing village residents.
The big problem is that the resort was the main source of income for many local people, who were either directly employed by it, or sold coconuts and local crafts to tourists. Now that the resort is closed until further notice, the village economy is basically dead, and locals have no source of income. In addition, many have lost loved ones and all their belongings. It’s going to be very hard to go back to normal.

What I’m trying to do is employ locals to work in cleanup teams, because right now there is a lot of debris everywhere that still needs to be evacuated. I hope we will eventually be able to rebuild the resort, but right now its future is uncertain. We were unfortunately not insured against tsunami damage, because in 2003, when we built the resort, there was no known risk of tsunamis in the area. Then in 2004 came the huge tsunami that ravaged South East Asia, so we decided to build the tall main building in the resort, which was designed to resist tidal waves. I’m so relieved we did, because that’s what saved the lives of the people in the resort. After they felt the earthquake, they immediately thought it might be followed by a tsunami so they rushed to the top floor of the main building. Minutes later, the wave swept through the resort, ravaging everything but leaving that one building standing.

Right now, we’re just trying to face things one day at a time. We’re extremely thankful that our staff and guests are all OK, but the cleanup and reconstruction left to do is huge. Some local NGOs as well as the Indonesian navy have come to the affected areas to help, but for now they are mostly providing food, supplies and emergency shelter to refugees. The long-term reconstruction effort will take a while.”
- video encodings still in process -