Saturday, January 15, 2005
The U.S. Navy SEAL jumped out of his jet-powered boat into knee-high water to search floating debris—rubber sandals, a television set, a battered refrigerator... for bodies of tsunami victims. Wading into a shallow inlet on the tourist island of Phi Phi, he reached into the water and plucked out a purse filled with sand. But he found no bodies. It was the sixth day of searching for the SEAL. Some 3,600 people are still listed as missing in Thailand. SEAL is an acronym for SEa, Air, and Land and highlights the arenas that the force can operate in. Its missions can include destroying enemy ships in a fortified harbor or softening up beach defenses. SEALs are also proficient in reconnaissance and small-unit tactics. In Thailand, hundreds of bodies were pulled from the ocean in the days after the tsunami. The SEAL teams have so far marked three areas where they suspect more corpses may have become entangled in vegetation or buried in silt. Thai authorities will come back to check the areas. “We dug and dug, but couldn’t get our hands on them,”The Navy SEAL said. “But they were there.” The SEALs have led teams of Thais and nearly a dozen U.S. Sailors on two 32-foot river boats, searching beaches, islands and mangrove swamps.