Flashback Friday | Families in St George and Shire frantic for loved ones in tsunami ravaged areas

MANY families in St George and Sutherland Shire were frantic with worry after a tsunami devastated South-East Asia on Boxing Day, 2004.

The last edition of the Leader for that year reported on lucky survivors arriving home or contacting relatives to let them know they were safe.

It would be the New Year before the stories of heartbreak would emerge.

Les Boardman, 56, of Cronulla and his wife, Dianne, 53, told how they were walking along Patong Beach, Phuket, when the tsunami struck.

‘‘There was a car that caught Dianne and it just went over the top of her,’’ Mr Boardman said.

‘‘The water got me, it shot me into a building. I was dodging another car.

‘‘You have one sole purpose and that’s survival. There were cars, chairs, you name it, it was coming at us, motorbikes and all that.’’

Cronulla resident Wendy Smith said her daughter Alana, 25, and her boyfriend were in Sri Lanka on a backpacking and surfing trip.

They had thought of booking a bungalow on the beach but had ended up in a third floor hotel room, where they watched the devastation unfold below.

‘‘If they had been in a bungalow, that would have been it,’’ Mrs Smith said.

The earthquake that generated the tsunami released energy equivalent to 23,000 of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

More than 150,000 people died and millions more were left homeless in 11 countries.


Every Friday we delve into the Leader archives to embark on some time travel.

We will bring you photographs of a news event from 57 years of Leader news coverage that you may or may not recall.

Flashback Friday submissions are also welcomed.

Feel free to share your recollections with us on our Facebook page @SutherlandShireStGeorgeNews or email leaderletters@fairfaxmedia.com.au