WASHINGTON -- The
U.S. State Dept. urged Americans to avoid all non-emergency travel
to the Asian countries hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami on
The death toll climbed
to more than 40,000 people, according to the International Red
Cross, mostly in south and southeast Asia, with coastal areas of
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and the Maldives hardest
quake, the most powerful in 40 years, was centered about 100 miles
off the coast of Indonesias Sumatra island deep beneath the Indian
The State Dept.
confirmed that 12 Americans were among the dead. It said embassy
officials were trying to locate hundreds of other U.S. citizens who
have not been heard from since the disaster.
The list of countries
reporting dead or injured nationals, the majority of them tourists,
appears to grow by the hour. Among the missing, injured or
confirmed dead were nationals of Australia, the U.K., France,
Italy, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, South
Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia and Sweden, according to
local media reports and foreign officials.
In Thailand, one of
the worst hit areas was Phuket, where massive waves and walls of
water crashed into coastal towns and beach resorts lining the
Andaman coast along the western portion of the island. The airport
remains open and operational.
According to the
Tourism Authority of Thailand, beachfront hotels and resorts lining
the Andaman coast of Phuket incurred severe damage and destruction.
On Krabi, the Krabi Resort was severely damaged, the tourism
authority said. On Phi Phi island, where the film The Beach,
starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed, the tourism authority said
there was total destruction.
French hotelier Accor
said it had 350 guests and as many as 250 employees at its Sofitel
Magic Lagoon Khao Lak hotel in Phuket when the tsunami struck,
causing severe damage. Accor said there were no reported victims at
two other resorts it manages on Phuket, the Novotel Phuket and
Panwa Beach Resort.
Singapores Banyan Tree
Group, which operates high-end properties in Phuket and the
Maldives, reported relatively minor damage to its resorts. Banyan
Tree said three of its five resorts at the Laguna Phuket
development were affected, with one resort, the Dusit Laguna,
reporting one missing guest.
The company said the
Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru and Angsana Maldives Ihuru both
suffered minor damage but are operational, while its Deer Park
Hotel in Sri Lanka was unaffected. However, the
opening of Banyans Swanee Hotel on Sri Lankas Beruwela beach, which
was under construction, has been postponed until late
Taj Hotels, Resorts
& Palaces reported it will close the Taj Exotica Resort &
Spa in the Maldives for two months of repairs. Taj said its
Fishermans Cove in Chennai, its three Taj hotels in Sri Lanka and
its Coral Reef resort in the Maldives are functioning
Club Med said one
employee at its resort in Phuket was killed by the tidal wave,
which also hit Club Med resorts in Kani and Faru in the
reported no significant damage to its properties in the Maldives,
where it manages and owns a 20% interest in the 100-room
One&Only Kanuhura and is the manager and developer of the
130-room One&Only Reethi Rah, which is scheduled to open in the
second quarter of 2005. Kerzner said the properties sustained some
flooding, adding that both properties were covered by
reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].