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Four Dublin friends were lucky to escape alive from tsunami

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From left, Louise McClean, Edel Currie, Jackie Dunne and Angela Gahan pictured as they arrived home from their devastated holiday in Thailand, at Dublin Airport in 2004

From left, Louise McClean, Edel Currie, Jackie Dunne and Angela Gahan pictured as they arrived home from their devastated holiday in Thailand, at Dublin Airport in 2004

angela Gahan

angela Gahan

Edel Currie

Edel Currie

Jackie Dunne

Jackie Dunne

Louise McClean

Louise McClean

An Acehnese girl cries amid debris of her house in the tsunami-devastated city of Banda Aceh...An Acehnese girl cries amid debris of her house in the tsunami-devastated city of Banda Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra January 29, 2005

An Acehnese girl cries amid debris of her house in the tsunami-devastated city of Banda Aceh...An Acehnese girl cries amid debris of her house in the tsunami-devastated city of Banda Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra January 29, 2005

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From left, Louise McClean, Edel Currie, Jackie Dunne and Angela Gahan pictured as they arrived home from their devastated holiday in Thailand, at Dublin Airport in 2004

THESE are the four Dublin friends who survived the catastrophic tsunami that devastated much of the Pacific Rim on St Stephen's day a decade ago.

Edel Currie, Louise McClean, Angela Gahon and Jackie Dunne all from East Wall were holidaying on the idyllic Phi Phi island in Thailand when the deadly wave hit.

The tidal wave reached 30-feet high in some areas and was caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean that measured 9.1 on the Richter scale.

It claimed the lives of some 230,000 people across a dozen nations and caused billions of euro worth of damage.

The four Irish women were able to escape death by fleeing to a nearby mountain.

They were forced to step barefoot over dead bodies as they fled the destruction.

While their families at home waited anxiously for their daughters to make it back safely, they took an 11-hour bus journey to Bangkok in order to fly home.

The friends had arrived in Thailand just four days before the December 26 disaster.

"I can't believe it will be ten years on St Stephen's Day," Edel Currie, who works in the Dublin Port company, told the Herald.

All four have remained firm friends in the intervening decade since they cheated death in Thailand.

Looking back on the tragedy now feels otherworldly for the friends.

"Despite what we went through and what we saw it feels very surreal, even now," Edel pointed out.

The relief of making it out alive made it easier to deal with the shock of what they had seen.

"When we talk about it now I suppose we realised that we were physically fine but mentally we hadn't thought about how it had affected us," Ms Currie added.

"Thankfully, we were all able to get on with our lives and we are all happy."

There were Irish lives lost as a result of the tsunami, includining Dubliner Eilis Finnegan, and the girls tried to help her family locate her.

"The family of Eilis sent us a photograph of her to see if we had seen her on Phi Phi. Sadly we hadn't, but that really resonated with us," she said.

"Thank God the four of us came back together with nothing more than some scratches and bruises," she said.

"It would have been so difficult to deal with if anything had happened to even one of us."

In April 2005 Edel and two colleagues from the Dublin Port company travelled to Banda Aceh in Indonesia, the epicentre of the devastation.

SCHOOL

Linking up with a local non-profit organisation they helped to rebuild a local elementary school. Its doors opened in November and it was the first school destroyed by the wave to be re-opened.

All four women went on to raise funds for various charities that were helping with the aid effort as a way of giving back after witnessing the devastation caused in the region.

In the intervening ten years since their near miss in Thailand the four women have all bought houses in Dublin and progressed in their careers.

Ms Currie is expecting her first child in 2015.

hnews@herald.ie


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