Earthquake terror of Ipswich woman

AN Ipswich woman has today spoke of her terror after being caught up in the massive earthquake which has killed more than 15,000 people in Asia.Speaking from a hotel in Singapore, Jessica Ball, 23, spoke of her relief at surviving the quake, which scientists say is the biggest for 40 years.

AN Ipswich woman has today spoke of her terror after being caught up in the massive earthquake which has killed more than 15,000 people in Asia.

Speaking from a hotel in Singapore, Jessica Ball, 23, spoke of her relief at surviving the quake, which scientists say is the biggest for 40 years.

Jessica, a former Holywells High School pupil, was trapped on a boat off Thailand when the huge underwater shock sent massive waves crashing into coastal towns across Asia, cascading death and destruction in its wake.

Miss Ball was on a boat taking her to Phuket in Thailand when news of the disaster reached the crew and the boat was forced to divert to a nearby island off the coast of Krabi.

"All of a sudden everyone had to put on life jackets and closed the windows," said Jessica.

"They took us to an island and I don't know where we were, we didn't know what was going on."

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The holidaymakers on the boat then spent a terrifying time on the island waiting for news and trying to contact their families at home before being ordered back onto the boat just as news of a second giant wave reached them.

"Communication was difficult, everyone was getting in a big frenzy and people were crying," said Jessica, who had spent three months working in Australia before travelling to Singapore and Thailand.

"It was scary because we were expecting another huge tsunami to knock the boat over."

The boat eventually reached land in Krabi and Jessica, who was with her boyfriend Will Houston, 28, travelled by taxi to Phuket where they were met with scenes of devastation.

"There was a lot of destruction there, power lines were down and people were hurt. We realised how bad things were when we got to Krabi and emergency services were everywhere.

"Once we started getting news from England about what was happening it was pretty scary, especially being on the boat in the sea. It was a frenzy on the boat"

Now in Singapore after managing to fly out of Phuket, Jessica said she can't quite believe what has happened.

"I feel like we could have been right in the middle of it. I feel a bit strange but lucky to have been out of it but I won't feel safe until I'm back in England.

"I just can't imagine what would have happened if we had been caught in it, it could so easily have been us, we are lucky to be alive."

Jessica and Will are now due to fly home on Wednesday.

Her parents, David and Rebecca Ball, of Cliff Lane, Ipswich, woke to news of the disaster at about 6.45am yesterday .

And it was not until 9.30am that their daughter was able to make contact with them to let them know she was safe.

Dr Ball, 50, former leader of Ipswich Borough Council said: "It was a very worrying time.

"Obviously we knew the worst place that had been hit was Sri Lanka, but we immediately got on to the internet to find some more information.

"Thank God she's safe and well."

"Just to get that call from her was a great weight off our minds. It had been a good Christmas because we were looking forward to her coming home. The worst moments were just those two or three hours when we didn't know. I wouldn't wish anybody to go through that situation."

The quake swept through communities in Sri Lanka, southern India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Maldives.

The quake's epicentre was beneath the Indian Ocean, 90 miles off the southern coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

It measured 8.9 on the richter scale - the strongest since 1964 and the fifth largest since 1900.

Do you know of anyone caught up in the disaster? Telephone the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788.

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