Asian Tsunami Heros

Monday, January 10, 2005

Teacher's instant response saved family and 15 tourists

A teacher who was on a beach in Phuket when he realised from his study of geology that the island was about to be hit by a tsunami saved the lives of his wife, his 11-year-old daughter and 15 other tourists.
John Chroston, 48, was in the water at Kamala Bay when the sea around him suddenly disappeared, leaving boats marooned. He reacted instantly, sprinted on to the beach shouting "tsunami", and urged other holidaymakers to flee to higher ground.
He then led his family on to the beach road, reaching it at the same time as a shuttle bus from their hotel.
With the help of a Thai doctor who spoke English, he persuaded the driver to take them towards higher ground.
Mr Chroston, of Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, who returned to Scotland on New Year's Eve, said: "I was about to take a photograph of a boat when the sea instantly retracted to beyond the outer rim of the bay.
"The tide left the beach at such a speed, fish and crabs were left behind. I am a keen mountain climber and have studied some geology. In an instant I was overtaken with the overwhelming certainty that we were about to experience a tsunami.
"I consider myself relatively reserved, not prone to over-reaction, but on that beach I left all my inhibitions behind.
"People were just looking at me, as their young children ran towards the stranded fish. But my wife Sandra later said she knew there was something wrong and could see the tsunami bubbling on the horizon behind me.
"In no time at all we had cleared the line of beach huts, when by some incredible coincidence the shuttle bus from our hotel pulled up.
"Thankfully the passengers did not disembark, probably because they were terrified of the raving lunatic. Luckily, a Thai doctor believed me and told the driver to turn the bus around."
Mr Chroston, a biology teacher at Falkirk High School, said the bus was struck by the edge of the tsunami but not badly damaged.
His daughter Rebecca said: "It was because of his quick thinking that we are here today."

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