Fact Check


Do photographs show the tsunami that struck Asia in December 2004?

Published Jan 4, 2005

Claim:   Photograph shows the tsunami that struck Indian Ocean shorelines in Asia in December 2004.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Be sure and open the picture for a shock of your life to see what the tsunami looked like just before hitting Puket, Thailand.

This picture is not a fake. It appears to have been taken from a hi-rise building window in downtown Phuket Thailand.

The power of nature is hard to comprehend, especially the destructiveness of water.

We have all seen the pictures on TV but I don't think any of us really understand how big or how bad this wave was. This may be the most impressive picture I've seen. It gives me a better understanding of how 150,000 people perished in this disaster. If you look at this picture that was taken right before the wave hit, it will send a chill down your spine. Just look at the top of the wave compared to the top of the building it is about to hit.

Tsunami(Click photo to enlarge)

Variations:   Various claims about this picture include:

  • It was taken by an employee of Kellogg's.
  • It came from a security camera in Aceh.
  • It came from a security camera of the Sheraton Hotel, Indonesia.
  • It was found on the Lions Clubs of Australia web site.

Origins:   This is another photograph being circulated as a picture of the tsunami that struck Indian Ocean shorelines in Asia on 26 December 2004, this one purportedly taken from atop a high-rise building in Phuket, Thailand.

This looks to be another case of any image depicting large waves being grabbed and passed around as a "real photograph" of the December 2004 tsunami. The image clearly doesn't fit its accompanying description because:

  • It looks like something other than a photograph, such as a still frame from a movie or a composite image.
  • The waves that struck the coast of Thailand after the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake were about 4 meters in height, but the ones pictured here look several stories tall.
  • The skyline depicted doesn't appear resemble the city of Phuket.
  • The traffic flow shown isn't right for Thailand, where motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road.

As the operator of the World City Photo Archive helpfully informed us, this image is actually a manipulated depiction of the skyline of Antofagasta, Chile:

Last updated:   14 January 2005

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.