Tsunami Seen From a High-Rise

image Snopes posted a photo (click to enlarge) that's going around accompanied by this text:

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.

Snopes says the status of the picture is undetermined, but I'd have a hard time believing it's real. First of all, is that actually downtown Phuket? I've never been there, so I couldn't say, but all the pictures of Thailand I've seen show it being a lot greener... a lot more vegetation. Second, almost every account of the tsunami I've read said that it didn't look like the classic hollywood image of a tidal wave towering above the land... which is exactly what this picture looks like. The wave in this picture is nearly as high as the tallest buildings, which would make it at least 100 feet high (or even higher). Of course, if this picture is real, it's pretty incredible.
Update: The cars are driving on the wrong side of the road for this to be a picture taken in Thailand.
image Update 2 (1/19/05): This picture actually shows a harbor view of Antofagosta, Chile (as seen in the thumbnail to the right). The large wave has obviously been photoshopped in.


Posted on Tue Jan 04, 2005


Also, Alex, that's not Honolulu, that's Waikiki on Oahu. The mountains in the background is Diamond Head; I've been there before! And that's not Diamond Head in the background of the fake tsunami picture, so I think we can rule out Waikiki as the source, but not Hawaii in general.
Posted by Sarah  in  Dallas  on  Fri Jan 07, 2005  at  03:53 PM
Easy to tell it's not a real tidal. The beach is normal.

Basically, just before a tidal wave hits, the water will literally pull out a good distance, depending on the strength of the wave, so if you're ever at the beach, and notice there's suddenly a *lot* more beach, be ready to get wet..

In other words, normal shoreline=not tidal.
Posted by Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Sat Jan 08, 2005  at  04:50 PM
Oh, and the text going with the photo should also be a dead giveaway. Any time anyone says 'this is not a fake', the response should be 'Well, I wasn't thinking it was beforehand, but now that you mention it...'. That and the hokey line about 'destructiveness of water'.
Posted by Bobcat Again  on  Sat Jan 08, 2005  at  04:53 PM
When a co-worker showed me this in his e-mail, my reaction was that it was probably a hoax. His reaction to my comment was something to the effect of "So and so wouldn't send me something that wasn't for real. Forget about it. I don't know why I bothered to show you this...". I hate it when people are so easily deceived and don't want to seek the truth.
Posted by Mark  on  Sun Jan 09, 2005  at  08:46 PM
When we first saw tha photo we both thought that it was fake, we have been sent it several times now, and it doesn't look any better with each viewing.
Posted by Marcia & Roger Adams  in  Long Point, ON. Canada  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  07:44 AM
Phuket, Thailand?

Well, not going to comment on the really bad photoshop job (oops, just did), but that is definatly not Phuket or anywhere around the coast. I know, I lived there.
Posted by Zeddash  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  09:09 PM
none of the cars are even swerving to avoid the water. i don't think it's too much to assume at least one of them would see the water and attempt to avoid it.
Posted by G  in  Los Angeles Area  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  02:53 PM
And, if the guy's sister (who supposedly took the picture), took it a WEEK before the tsunami hit...hmmm...well, you get the point...fake fake fake
Posted by Theo  on  Fri Jan 14, 2005  at  07:56 AM
This is a picture of Antofagasta Chile! It is the most obvious fake photo of that tsunami ever.
Posted by Patty  in  Orlando  on  Mon Jan 17, 2005  at  11:20 AM
The pic is a fake. Look at the shdows. In the lower right hand corner you see showdows of the sea wall withthe sun being oriented to the upper right of the picture. If the wave were real you would also see the shadow of the wave.
Posted by Rickfromnh  in  Boston  on  Wed Jan 19, 2005  at  11:33 AM
To see a good picture showing the same location (in Chile) go to:

Posted by Don  on  Wed Jan 19, 2005  at  01:21 PM
Thanks, Don. I just updated the post with that info.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Jan 19, 2005  at  01:59 PM
I've been to phuket, spend a week there, and there's no place on the island that looks like that. There's only one high-point on the island, and this photo shows multiple ridges.


Even if I was blind when I was there, the major town in Phuket is on the northeast side of the island, shielded by the island itself from any waves from Indonesia.
Posted by Paul  on  Sat Jan 29, 2005  at  09:19 AM
Posted by Eddie_Torretti  in  Chile  on  Sun Jul 17, 2005  at  09:34 PM
its badly photoshoped as well
Posted by gav  in  New york  on  Thu Aug 04, 2005  at  07:55 AM
I thought that the tsaumi was as big as both the world trade centers on top of each other. It doesn't matter if that picture was real, because soon enough there will waves 4X the size of that. With global warming and how we are killing the earth. I hope everyone survive 2012. Good luck.
Posted by sha davis  in  houston texas  on  Mon Nov 05, 2007  at  10:08 AM
Other than the location, this photo is a hoax. While the real wave was certainly devastating, a wave this high would require something the equivalent of an asteroid hitting the planet or a massive landslide, and secondly, although people call a tsunami a tidal wave it is really a large area of the ocean that very suddenly is raised up to a higher level and hence tries to pour onto the lower area around it. If the sea went up by 10ft then it would flow onto land until it reached the point where the land had risen by 10ft or so. In many coastal areas this point could be many miles inland. This is why tsuanmis are so devastating, the water just doesn't stop. But generally they are not huge hollywood type waves crashing in like this picture.
Posted by Dave  in  USA  on  Mon Aug 24, 2009  at  06:58 AM
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