It was a busy day at the Unawatuna
About 15 divers were enthusiastically getting ready to board the boat.
The Dive Master Chaminda had just slung his BCD/Tank and was hauling
his other gear to the boat when the first wave hit the center. Chaminda
was hurled inland and lived to tell the tale by hugging a lamppost for
his dear life. Him and many others were injured.
Somadasa and his guests were gearing up at the International
in Hikkaduwa when
the first wave hit them. Someone had the presence of mind to call the
Meteorological department to inquire about this unprecedented phenomenon
and was warned of a second wave. Everyone at the dive center immediately
evacuated to higher ground and also saved countless other lives. The
second and the third wave decimated the dive center. Dharshana,
an Assistant Instructor, helped many hapless tourists.
Eric Fernando and his guests at the Scuba Sri Lanka
in Bentota were gearing
up when the first waves gushed in. Eric, his team and his guests escaped
with their lives.
Delia Zimmler of the Ypsylon Dive
and her team also barely escaped and with serious injuries.
Elsewhere, Warren & Julie Lavender from Calgary,
Canada were 20 meters undersea were on their first dive after the PADI
OW certification. They felt an incredible current and held onto rocks
and coral. They lived to tell the tale.
The east coast was on off-season and all the dive
shops were closed. Most of the hotels in the area suffered extreme damages
and loss of life. The tsunami's were at its strongest here at ten meters
high and reaching two kilometers inland.
An island nation lay stunned in the aftermath of an
incident perhaps known to some only in ancient legends. It is said that
two thousand years ago, the Princess Viharamahadevi was once cast away
in the ocean as a sacrifice to appease the gods of the sea who had ravaged
the land relentlessly.
For many tsunami's were an unknown phenomenon. Some
lost their lives as a price for their innocent curiosity when the sea
receded briefly back to its depths only to return with vengeance.
The seas had indeed returned, perhaps a reminder to
all of us the fragility of life we have so focused on pettiness and
differences. In an unprecedented show of unity the world is now rising
to the occasion. Help is pouring into the affected areas and rebuilding
has already begun. In a matter of time paradise will be regained and
a better Sri Lanka will be built.
One day the sea will return. It always does. And perhaps
the next time we will be stronger, united and better prepared for its
arrival. Yet we must humbly remember that the sea is our master; for
countless eons ago it gave life to earth. One day, it will take back
all it has given.