Honeymoon couple flee tsunami horror

THE PARENTS of a Wigtownshire man this week spoke of their relief after hearing that their son and his bride who had been on honeymoon in the tsunami-hit Maldives were safe and well.

Jamie and Anne McCubbin had been married just 17 days when their paradise island was devastated by giant 300mph waves which swamped their holiday island resort on Boxing Day.

They had flown out to the Maldives and were nearing the end of their honeymoon when huge waves caused by an earthquake under the Indian Ocean, registering 9 on the Richter scale, crashed onto the coastline of several countries across south east Asia killing more than 80,000 people - many of them holidaymakers.

The first Jamie's father, Ken McCubbin heard about the disaster was when his alarm clock radio which he had forgotten to switch off on Christmas night came on just after 8am with news of the tragedy unfolding in the Indian Ocean.

“I picked up on the fact that something was happening in the Indian Ocean,” said the retired Douglas Ewart High School teacher.

Speaking exclusively to The Galloway Gazette, Mr McCubbin continued: “They mentioned something about Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka – then I heard Maldives and immediately nudged my wife Margaret who was still asleep.”

Then began the longest few hours of couple's lives as they anxiously watched and listened to news bulletins and telephoned the emergency Foreign Office helpline for news of their son and daughter in law.

Former Douglas Ewart High School pupil, Jamie, 30, a solicitor and his wife, Anne, who were married at Monnigaff Parish Church on December 11th had phoned the family home in Newton Stewart on Christmas Day.

The couple had telephoned earlier and had mentioned that the resort was terrific as they only needed to step out of the door of their hotel and they were right on the beach, which only heightened Ken and Margaret's concern as news of 300mph killer waves hitting resorts across south east Asia came in.

“The Foreign Office telephone line was constantly engaged so I left it on autodial. It must have redialled 100 times before we were able to get through,” he said. Although Ken did finally get through - he drew a total blank as the Foreign Office had at that stage little news of who had been caught up in the disaster.

But then came the news they were waiting for. At around 10am on Boxing Day, Jamie and Anne telephoned on Anne's mobile to say that they were well and not to worry.

“Jamie sounded quite buoyant as he had slept through the tsunami and apart from the electricity in the hotel being off, had no idea of the scale of the disaster around them.

“He said not to worry as it was probably all media hype,” said Ken.

But Margaret, a retired Penninghame Primary teacher remained anxious as news bulletins spoke of the chance of further giant waves hitting the resorts from the after shock of the original quake.

“It was only when Jamie called back a few hours later that they realised the enormity of what had happened. Jamie's voice was now very subdued as he realised how lucky they had been,” said Ken.

The hotel guests had been moved upstairs by with their belongings by hotel staff.

The streets around the resort were completely flooded.

“They asked us to find out if the airport was still open and if there were any flights out of the islands,” said Ken.

“The travel firm were very helpful and we found out that an empty plane was flying out to bring people home.”

Ken and Margaret then watched CEEFAX into the small hours to ensure that the plane had left although it had been delayed to allow holidaymakers from outlying islands to get to the airport.

Then on Tuesday morning, Ken and Margaret got a call from Jamie and Anne to say they had arrived at Gatwick.

“We were both extremely grateful and relieved that they were both safely back home,” said Margaret.

Jamie and Anne would have witnessed the scale of the devastation on the way to the airport, said Ken.

Luckily, because of the threat of monsoon downpours, the drainage system at the airport had enabled aircraft to land and take off.

“We've had so many phone calls from family and friends over the past few days enquiring about Jamie and Anne,” said Margaret. “Their decision to go to the Maldives was only taken at the last minute because they wanted to go somewhere where there was plenty of sunshine,” she added.

“We're very fortunate.

“There must be people who still don't know whether their loved ones are alive or dead, it must be hell for them,” said Margaret.

It's not the first time that Jamie has had his parents on the edge of their seats.

He's abseiled down Table Mountain in South Africa, gone glacier climbing, bungee jumping and jumped out of an aeroplane.

“But judging from his voice, he's realised just how lucky they were to come through this unscathed,” concluded Ken.

“We wouldn't want to go through this again,” added Margaret.