In Thailand? Help me contact my brother after the earthquake.
December 26, 2004 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm sure you've all heard the news that thousands are dead in Asia after a massive earthquake struck near Indonesia. My brother is among the missing and we're desperately trying to find out if he's OK. If you're in the region or have experience with contacting loved ones after an event like this, please read on. I need your help

Here's what we know: He was supposed to travel from Bangkok to the Island of Phangan sometime within the past 48 hours. We suspect that he was in route when the earthquake struck because the hotel, Phangan Cabana Resort, was not able to confirm that he had checked in. We've tried contacting him by cell phone but service has been sporadic since the beginning of his trip. We've been unable to reach anyone at the Canadian Consulates in Thailand or via the Canadian consulate emergency 800 number. We've been similarly unsuccessful at reaching the Thai Red Cross society. We're at a loss as to how to proceed and we're very concerned for his safety. If there's anyone on the ground there that can advise us of where survivors might be and how we can reach them, please post here. I won't post my brother's name but if you're on the ground in Thailand and would be willing to help, I'll email his name and photo. Thanks...
posted by blockhead to Grab Bag (21 answers total)
i think that you'd be better posting this in the mefi thread here - more people read mefi than askme. good luck (there is at least one suggestion in that thread for somewhere to post, too).
(not a snakr, just helping),
posted by andrew cooke at 2:27 PM on December 26, 2004

Oh goodness, blockhead, I'm so sorry. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers! Please keep us updated.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:38 PM on December 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

Thank you, both. I missed that thread on mefi - I'll keep an eye on it in case something useful gets posted.
posted by blockhead at 2:44 PM on December 26, 2004

Contact your local Red Cross society. They have a disaster relief programme that includes helping family members find each other. How it works is that your brother finds his way to the local emergency centre and gives someone his information. In the meantime, you give your information to the local Red Cross. From the Red Cross Canada site:

"Contacting Family in Disaster Area
If a loved one is in the affected area, family members from outside the area can call their local Red Cross office and request assistance in determining the well-being of their family member. "

I would use that service. When I volunteered with the Red Cross, they would set up phone banks specifically for these calls.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:46 PM on December 26, 2004

I guess I should have added a link to that information, huh?

Here you go. Restoring Family Links from the Red Cross site. Here are numbers for the Canadian Red Cross offices. I hope that helps.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:59 PM on December 26, 2004

Hang tight. Communication becomes tangled in situations like these. He is most likely trying his best to let you know he is fine, but it's difficult at best. My prayers are out to you and those there. Remember, keep calm, stay close to those who can console you in a stable manner.
posted by sled at 3:23 PM on December 26, 2004

Salmonberry and Sled, thanks. The Red cross says to call Foreign Affairs. Foreign Afairs is always either busy or just not answering.
posted by blockhead at 3:43 PM on December 26, 2004

I think if he wasn't ok, you might have heard--they're tallying/id'ing the foreigners in all the hospitals (and the bodies they've recovered). It's not much, but there's value in standing out from the crowd in situations like this. He could be helping others too. Hang on, blockhead.

He also could have been on the way when he heard/felt what happened and decided to hunker down where he was too. It's a really good sign that he didn't check into the beach cabana place.

There's this Foreign and Commonwealth Office out of London that may be able to help too:
For up-to-date information on problems affecting your safety in around 200 countries refer to the, or contact:

Travel Advice Unit
Consular Directorate
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
London SW1A 2PA
Tel: 0870 6060290 (Please do not use this number for visa-related enquiries)
Fax: 020 7008 0155
email: (for Travel Advice enquiries only)
posted by amberglow at 4:02 PM on December 26, 2004

you know what? call your local govt. representative too--they can get thru when you can't.
posted by amberglow at 4:14 PM on December 26, 2004

I hope he's okay, blockhead.
posted by interrobang at 4:27 PM on December 26, 2004

Thank you all so much! I just heard from him - he's OK!! So, now I'm going to turn my attention to sending aid to those in need. If anyone feels so moved, the red cross is accepting donations. The Canadian Red Cross is appealing for help via their web site: South East Asia Tidal wave and Earthquake - Press Release. Again, thank you all for your advice and kind words.
posted by blockhead at 4:35 PM on December 26, 2004

I'm very glad to hear that your brother is OK, blockhead. I went through a similar hell with my best friend after the Bali bombing, with an unhappier conclusion.

For what it's worth, if others in a similar situation read this thread, I got most of my soon-after-the-disaster information by searching again and again at Google news.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:09 PM on December 26, 2004

Oh hurray! Thanks for the quick update, blockhead.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:17 PM on December 26, 2004 [1 favorite]

anyone know how difficult it is to get in touch with england or america from india at the moment? I unfortunately have no idea where in India my dad is, and would think he'd try to let us know he's okay, but so far haven't heard anything. I sent him an email and checked in with other family who might know anything, but no one has news.

I don't really want to get worked up about it and call gov't offices etc, since a)I have no reason to believe he was on the southern coast, and b)as amberglow said, someone would probably contact us if they were harmed... but on the other hand, if they were somewhere easy to call from, I'd think they'd get in touch, and I'm starting to feel like it's been long enough that they should've checked in. Any thoughts?
posted by mdn at 5:42 PM on December 26, 2004

yippee, blockhead! i'm so glad!!! : >

it could be that circuits are overloaded there, mdn...sit tight til tomorrow, and i bet you'll have a message. So far, flooding in Madras and other places on the coast are what the worst was there--and India is gigantic.
posted by amberglow at 5:54 PM on December 26, 2004

Stavros, very sorry about your friend's suffering. I don't know if you hit a road block with Foreign Affairs also, but I intend to find out why they didn't have a functioning call center for Canadian families. Perhaps they were overwhelmed by the volume of calls, but I would think they could ramp up to handle it within a day.

mdn, it wouldn't hurt to try to get your name on the contact list by calling your local Red Cross... I hope you have more success with that than I did. Good luck, and let us know if there's anything we can do.
posted by blockhead at 6:01 PM on December 26, 2004

I actually did get through to Foreign Affairs from here in Korea, blockhead, about 24 hours after the fact, I think, and they were very helpful, and confirmed what I had been able to piece together from shreds of news around the web, that my friend had been grievously injured and airlifted to Australia.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:06 PM on December 26, 2004

this must be bringing up all sorts of horrible memories, stav--sorry
posted by amberglow at 6:09 PM on December 26, 2004

No, it's fine, amberglow. Better to focus on helping those who are going through it now.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:13 PM on December 26, 2004

blockhead, thanks for the update, and I'm glad for you. stavros, I was thinking of you and your friend when I read this post. Major props for helping blockhead here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:36 PM on December 27, 2004

my dad emailed this morning - I was just about to start getting worried, so that was a relief. They were inland and unaffected, but had intended to go to the southern tip the next day to see "the great rock"(?) off the coast there... well anyway. They're okay. Thanks for the thread.
posted by mdn at 6:29 AM on December 28, 2004

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