Seems impossible that the horror of the Boxing Day Asian tsunami is now ten years past today. Still hard to believe – even after working on the aftermath in Banda Aceh Indonesia, Phuket Thailand and Myanmar – that nearly a quarter of a million died that day.
For those who worked documenting the Worlds (possibly) largest ever natural disaster, including myself, the images of death and destruction are indelibly etched.
I was tasked to cover the tsunami alongside the tough as nails and supremely talented UK journalist Susie Boniface for a British Sunday tabloid. Our immediate objective was to find the youngest UK victim and in Phuket we discovered battered survivor Patrice Fayet searching for his British wife and 6 month old Ruby-Rose. With the permission of Patrice and his family we documented his search amongst the temple morgues around Koh Lak Thailand. A eye opening unenviable task. The remains of Patrice’s wife Samantha were identified by DNA some months later. Ruby-Rose has never been found.
Ten years on and I was approached by a production company to provide my images of Patrice and the search for Ruby-Rose for use as an integral part of a 90 minute commemorative documentary film “After the Wave”. The film has already aired on SBS and the UK Discovery Channel to mark the tenth anniversary of the disaster.
“After the Wave” tells the untold story of the epic forensic operation in Thailand to identify and return home the bodies of over 5,000 victims. It has received great reviews in the Australian media. The SMH described it as ‘Haunting and Beautiful’ … SBS stated “The 90 minute film ‘After The Wave’ features heartbreaking first-person accounts of families torn apart when the tsunami struck. It also tells the story of the Australian Federal Police officers who led what became the world’s biggest forensic identification operation – returning a staggering 4000 bodies to families in 40 different countries”.
Around a dozen of my images from ten years ago are used in the production (with Patrice’s permission) and a further two of Patrice during his search for Ruby-Rose are being used on promotional material for “After the Wave” … and these can be viewed below (pics 2 and 3).
A collection of my tsunami photographs from both the 2004 Asian event (including those of Patrice’s search) and the Papua New Guinea tsunami in Sissano and Aitape 1998 can be found at … https://www.briancasseyphotographer.com/photographs/tsunami/
Patrice Fayet images © Brian Cassey