Times have changed. Apparently people drowned in their hotel rooms. Tourism is the main industry on the island, and employs thousands of Thai workers.
A tsunami alert system would probably not have helped - there was only about an hour between the time the earthquake hit and the tsunami reaching Batong Beach. Phuket just does not have the resources to shift that many people that quickly. Neither does San Francisco, come to think of it.
And I'm sure it's even worse in Sri Lanka and India, which do not have the kind of infrastructure a wel--established tourist place like Phuket has.
Nobody expects a tidal wave.
Update: Phuket.com's Hotel Status Page lists which hotels are open, closed, partially functioning.
I'm posting this list of aid agencies, for those who wish to help.
From: Carolyn Nickels <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Friends of Thailand
Dear Friend of Thailand,
There is not a lot to say. Though many of you may already have this
information, following is a partial list of organizations involved with
relief efforts resulting from Sunday's catastrophe in South and Southeast
Asia. Toll-free numbers and/or web sites where donations can be made are
Action Against Hunger
America Jewish World Service
American Friends Service Committee
Catholic Relief Services
Direct Relief International
Santa Barbara, CA
Doctors Without Borders
International Medical Corps
Santa Monica, CA
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Orthodox Christian Charities
Lutheran World Relief
Northwest Medical Teams
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Save the Children Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization
US Fund for UNICEF