Photos: Karaikal, India – Meeting Tsunami Survivor K. Pasupathi

With great courage and humility, K. Pasupathi recounted to me his amazing tsunami survivor story that happened in December of 2004.

“The tsunami waves reached to the top of that lighthouse.” K. Pasupathi pointed out as he shared his courageous Tsunami survivor story of how he survived the infamous tsunami of December 26, 2004.

He said it was a typical pretty day when he and several of his successful friends were on the beach in Karaikal, Pondicherry, India, playing tennis together when he heard what he described as running water pouring from a faucet coming from the ocean. He stopped and looked out to the sea and noticed the water quickly rising, his feet were already underwater before he realized what was happening.

He had spent about $1,000 on his tennis racket and hundreds more on the other ones he carried with him. Fearing for his life, he dropped them all and started running as fast as he could from the rising water. He saw a line of trees ahead of him and thought to himself that if he could quickly climb up one of them, he would be safe.

Not realizing the danger they were in, Pasupathi’s friends were far behind him, still gathering their expensive tennis rackets.

He was about to climb up a tree when a scene from the movie,“The Day After Tomorrow” came to mind. It was a scene when the main characters were running from a tidal wave and someone suggested they go into a building that was behind another building for additional protection.

K. Pasupathi looked out at the trees and saw one behind a guest house. He ran over to it, and the moment he jumped up to grab a branch, the water came rushing by. His friends and the other trees that had people in them were tragically washed away. The guest house had protected him. He climbed as high as he could; at his highest point, the water was still touching his feet.

As he sat there in the tree, he saw a boy struggling in the water and drifting by him. He grabbed the boy and pulled him to safety. After the water had gone down a bit, he climbed out of the tree and swam to another tree nearby and climbed that one while holding the boy.

When he finally made it to town, the water in the street was up to his chest. He notified a friend of his in the government about what happened and his friend was able to tell the coast guard. The coast guard went to the beach to look for K. Pasupathi’s friends, but, Pasupathi sadly said to me, “that they were all found dead.”

He told me that for a long time whenever he heard someone turn the water on, the sound of the running water would cause him to panic for a second.

Today was the first day he had been back to this beach. It had been over 5 years and I was fortunate enough to be with him today and hear his tsunami survivor story.

More Photos From My Incredible Trip to India:

22 thoughts on “Photos: Karaikal, India – Meeting Tsunami Survivor K. Pasupathi

    1. Hi Mathew ,
      This is Kumar (this is my short name called in my office but am not willing to publish my full name) from madras(chennai),south India. I am unknown to you but I really appreciate for all your efforts for this kind of blog . I dobnt know Internet much & also dont know what is meant by blog but I just wanted to thank all the people from united states for spending your valuable time in replying to this true incident . You all are great .
      Nanri(Thank you )
      Vanakkam(Bye Bye)

  1. Wow!! Great photos.. and what a story. I can only imagine that to this day and for the rest of his life that the sound of rushing water will trigger this memory for him. How beautiful that he was able to save a boy’s life…and that he was wise enough to know that those tennis rackets are worth nothing compared to a life. Thanks for sharing. That’s so cool you were able to revisit the scene with him for the very first time.

    1. Hi Mimi ,Also in you tube just search for “Karaikal tsunami ” you will be able to see the river in one of the South Indian city named karaikkal where river reverts back from sea in a gigantic scene. also search for the term “kanyakumari tsunami” which shows a giant 133 feet statue(called as “Thiruvalluvar silai” in Tamil Language )being overshadowed by the splashing waves of tsunami. Near that statue lies a rock memorial (called as “vivekanandar paarai ” in Tamil Language )from where almost 500 to 800 people were rescued . kanyakumari (called in Tamil )is the city (called as cape comerin in English) which is the starting point of India .

    1. Hi Cindy B ,Also in you tube just search for “Karaikal tsunami ” you will be able to see the river in one of the South Indian city named karaikkal where river reverts back from sea in a gigantic scene. also search for the term “kanyakumari tsunami” which shows a giant 133 feet statue(called as “Thiruvalluvar silai” in Tamil Language )being overshadowed by the splashing waves of tsunami. Near that statue lies a rock memorial (called as “vivekanandar paarai ” in Tamil Language )from where almost 500 to 800 people were rescued . kanyakumari (called in Tamil )is the city (called as cape comerin in English) which is the starting point of India .

    1. Hi Amanda ,Also in youtube just search for “Karaikal tsunami ” you will be able to see the river in one of the South Indian city where river reverts back

  2. I finally got a chance to read about the Tsunami survivor on Friday evening when I got home..and its still on my mind even after the long weekend. It’s like I relived the situation in my mind and it gave me chills! Can you imagine going through something like that? Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve done the same thing he did. I definitely would’ve dropped the tennis rackets and climbed a tree or building, but I don’t know if I would’ve been as aware as he was when he pick a tree that was stationed behind a building. Now, that’s what I call a survivor! Grabbing the little boy was a such a heroic move…because he could’ve very easily just ignored him and concentrated on saving his own life. Thanks man, I’m going to email this to some friends of mine if you don’t mind.

    1. Hi Laurence ,Also in youtube just search for “Karaikal tsunami ” you will be able to see the river in one of the South Indian city named karaikkal where river reverts back form sea in a gigantic scene

  3. Hi
    This is Pasupathi from Karaikal. I saw your photos, they are very nice and so many friends have seen these photos and they are very happy.
    Thank you very much
    by
    K.Pasupathi
    Karaikal

    1. K.Pasupathi, I am so happy that you are pleased with my blog about your story and that your friends enjoy it as well. Thank you so much for sharing your act of courage and survival with me. It was an honor for me to visit India, meet you, and hear your story. I hope all is well with you and your family, take care.
      Peace.

    2. Hi K.Pasupathi ,
      en peyar Kumar(this is my short name called in my office but am not willing to publish my full name)ungalai enakku theriyathu. aanal neengal seiydha seyal paaraatukkuriyadhu . nanri.
      This is Kumar from madras(chennai). I am unknown to you but I really appreciate for what you had done to save the boy . neengal nalamudan vaala en manamaarndha vaalthukkal .
      also at the same time I feel sorry & sad for your friends tragedy.
      Vanakkam

    1. Me too, even though it has been several years that has passed, people are still suffering from it. Thank you for your comment and I agree, we are certainly very lucky to still be here.

  4. I was moved to tears when I read the story.my uncle Haleem too was with pasupathy playing tennis when this happened. Pasupathy was lucky but my uncle was not. My uncle was a school head master in a government school. May his soul rest in peace. Thanks pasupathy for your courage. Thanks Matthew for this blog.

    1. Hi Matthew T Rader
      This is Pasupathi.k from Karaikal. How are you and your family? One weak before I have got my lost tennis racket.
      thanks
      Pasupathi.k

    2. Hello Pasupathi, I’m doing well and so is my family, thank you! That so interesting about your tennis racket, that you got it back. It was definitely worth leaving it behind so save your life and then to get it back a week later.

  5. Hi,
    I am writing a book about my son and daughter in law who survived the tsunami in Khao Lak, Thailand.
    I seek permission to quote the story of K. Pasupathi as reported on your web site. I will of course acknowledge the source of the material.
    Mark Witzer
    basildon
    England

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