Reuters reported on January 2,
2005, from Thailand:
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 from Khao Lak beach at the eight-elephant business offering
rides to tourists.
The elephants started trumpeting - in a way Dang, 36, and his wife Kuluda, 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 their mahouts' attempts
"'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 elephants with tourists aboard headed for the jungle-clad hill behind
the resort beach where at least 3,800 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 6-mile beach especially
popular with Scandinavians and Germans.
'The mahouts managed to turn the elephants to lift the tourists onto their
backs,' Kulada said.
"The elephants charged up the hill through the jungle, then stopped. The
tsunami drove up to 1,000 yards 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 stood."