COLOMBO, Dec 29 (AFP) - British-born science
fiction author Arthur C. Clarke who has made Sri Lanka his
adopted home lost his diving school with the deadly tsunami
eerily echoing a plotline from his first book on the island.
Clarke — who predicted the establishment of
communication satellites and shot to fame after his writing
"2001: A Space Odyssey" — said his diving school at Hikkaduwa,
100 kilometres (60 miles) south here was destroyed.
"Among those affected are my staff based at our
diving station and holiday bungalow, both beach-front properties
located in areas worst hit," Clarke said in a statement.
"We still don’t know the full extent of damage
as both roads and phones have been damaged. Early reports
indicate that we have lost most of our diving equipment and
boats. Not all our staff members are accounted for yet."
Clarke, now confined to a wheelchair after
suffering from post-polio syndrome, was not in the area at the
The 87-year-old, who is an honoured guest of Sri
Lanka and has a state technology institute named after him, said
the island of 19 million people lacked the resources to cope
with the aftermath of the catastrophe.
Official figures placed the toll at up to 17,640
dead and more than 20,000 injured. The loss of property is yet
to be estimated with more than three quarters of the island’s
"This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented
magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity
to cope with the aftermath," Clarke said. "We are all trying to
contribute to the relief efforts."
His first book on Sri Lanka, then known as
Ceylon, had a chapter on tidal waves hitting the southern port
of Galle, he said.
"Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri
Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle
harbour," he said.
"That happened in August 1883, following the
eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian
He was referring to the submarine earthquake in
the Indian Ocean off Indonesia that triggered the tsunami which
devastated coastlines of seven Asian nations, with Sri Lanka one
of the hardest hit.
He said he was "enormously relieved" that he
escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts
of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.
"But many others were not so fortunate," he
said. "For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown
number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out
to be a living nightmare."
Clarke is one of the world’s best known sci-fi
authors with more than 80 books to his credit. He published his
theory on geo-stationery satellites in 1945.
He is Sri Lanka’s best-known guest resident, but
in recent years, his reputation has suffered amid allegations he
abused local children, charges he has vehemently denied.