By SAM BENGERsamb@gladstoneobserver.com.au
WHILE the tsunami tragedy has hit close to home, former Boyne Island resident Pam McKay had a "miraculous'' escape last week.
Mrs McKay was on holiday in Phuket, when she felt the earthquake about 8am on Boxing Day.
However, luck was on her side as she checked out of her hotel in the morning, escaping the killer waves that devastated the island, killing more than 4000 people in Thailand, and over 150,000 across the world.
"We checked out of our hotel and boarded the bus at 9am ? about 40 minutes later the first wave hit the beach, but by that stage we had left the hotel and were up in the mountains on a trip to a jewellery factory,'' she said.
"At 11am we went to the airport where we first found out what had happened ? there were people everywhere running out in a panic and shouting 'Earthquake, earthquake, tornado' ? we just grabbed our things and started running with everyone else, not knowing what we were running from or where we were going,'' she said.
Mrs McKay said although the airport was close to the ocean, she did not see the wave due to the number of people running.
"We managed to walk about one kilometre to where the bus was parked and they took us further into the hills,'' Mrs McKay said.
Mrs McKay said she contacted her daughter, Donna, in Gladstone, after the group was moved to a hotel in a secure location and she was able to borrow a phone from another tourist.
"When I spoke to Donna I realised I hadn't known how bad it really was ? we were oblivious, we hadn't seen the waves or anything,'' she said.
Mrs McKay said the group was fortunate enough to get on a flight to Hong Kong the following day. "At the airport where we saw the first real signs of what had happened ? there were people on crutches, limping and with bandages ? but we were able to get a flight and just as we boarded the plane they cancelled all other flights out of Phuket, and we were the only ones to get away ? we were really blessed and very lucky to have made a miraculous escape,'' she said.