Amazing Tsunami Picture
By David Emery, About.com Guide
Netlore Archive: Emailed image purports to show the devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004 washing ashore on the Thai island of Phuket (or Indonesia, depending on version).
Description: Viral image
Circulating since: Dec. 2004
Status: Fake (see details below)
Email contributed by Helen, Jan. 4, 2005:
Subject: Fwd: Fw: TSUNAMI
Click to Enlarge
Analysis: Hoax. Virtually everyone who has submitted this image to me for authentication has expressed disbelief, and no wonder. Given the enormity of the real event, this is a "Kodak moment" which, if authentic, would have appeared on the front page of every newspaper in the world. But it didn't. Nor is it hard to figure out that it's the work of a prankster who combined two unrelated images into one striking but bogus montage.
In one version of the email the locale is specified as Phuket, Thailand. In another, Indonesia. Neither is plausible, however, because in both places vehicles are driven on the left side of the road, not the right as shown above.
In short, the image above represents someone's fantasy of what a tsunami looks like, not the real deal as if the real deal and the devastation it caused weren't incredible enough in the first place.
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Sources and further reading:
Phuket Tsunami Photo Gallery
Actual tsunami photos taken by Helmut Issels
2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake/Tsunami
Wikipedia, ongoing coverage of 2004 tsunami
CNN.com Special: Tsunami
CNN, ongoing coverage of 2004 tsunami
Eyewitnesses Recount Tsunami Terror
CNN, 26 December 2004
Last updated: 04/12/12