Tsunami in Indonesia
Nate Berkus and Fernando Bengoechea (his former partner) had faced a tsunami too. Relief and rescue operations continue in Indonesia after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Sulawesi Island killing at least 1,948 people, according to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management which raised the death toll.
More than 70,000 homes were destroyed or damaged by the magnitude 7.5 quake that struck on September 28, launching waves as high as six meters that slammed into Sulawesi at 800 km/h.
Nate Berkus and Fernando Bengoechea Tsunami
Famous interior designer Nate Berkus has previously survived 2004 tsunami while his former partner Fernando Bengoechea is presumed dead in that incident. The following tsunami reminded a flashback to the interior designer and he took this opportunity to shout out for help in the Sulawesi tsunami incident. Nate Berkus posted a video on his Instagram asking everyone for help in any way possible to the Indonesia incident.
Previously his former partner’s (Fernando Bengoechea) brother Marcelo Bengoechea had an exclusive talk in an interview after the disaster. Here are some of the excerpts of the conversation. Marcelo himself is a creative director at Reef Brazil.
Marcelo Bengoechea(Fernando’s Brother)
‘My brother is well-known in the fashion industry. He lived in New York. Fernando liked interior design and photography. He has done a lot of work for Reef too. Not the girl’s butts, but the product shots.’ Fernando Bengoechea, a famous New York photographer and adventure lover went missing in Sri Lanka after he was hit by a tsunami in 2004. He was in his bungalow with Nate Berkus – an interior designer. Fernando and Nate were sleeping in their bungalow at the Stardust Hotel in Arugam Bay. Many of you may not know this is the same place where excellent series of waves were hit moments when the tsunami hit the beach.
The place he stayed at the time of tsunami is called Stardust Hotel in Arugam Bay. This place is well known for the right-hand wave. He was on a vacation trip. He was there to spend the New Year’s Eve and Christmas. Fernando was not a hardcore surfer as me – so he doesn’t carry a board with him where ever he goes.
This was probably his first time in Sri Lanka. He was simply a travel freak, He loved to travel and capture pictures. He has extensively traveled to countless remote locations. I literally know no one who has traveled more than my brother, Fernando. I know a lot of surfers but he was one of a charm. He got so many free air miles, I knew he was always going places.
Did you talk about Nate regarding him?
Marcelo: Yes. I did. I talked to him. They were together at the time of the tsunami. They were swept together. That’s what Nate told me. They were woken up in the water. Their bungalow was right alongside the beach. They were the first of the people who got hit first. Nate told Marcelo that after a 20 second time lapse that’s when the second wave hit them. They both thought it was over but then they got some sort of telephone pole. They hung on to it. When another wave hit them, Nate got a chance to climb up on a rooftop while my brother was swept into the lagoon and the jungle area.
The hotel looked like as if it was a strip between the lagoon and the ocean. Fernando was swept over into the lagoon and that was the last moments of him. He was last seen after the second wave hit them and he went into the lagoon. Nate got lucky to have a chance to climb up a rooftop. Additionally, he was luckier to have a company who had an international cell-phone with him. So the search party was able to start a search. As for Nate, he called his mom to send her a message that he is alive.
Authorities were alerted and searching for people they can find alive. I contacted someone who looked exclusively for my brother. He went in the affected area looking for him. The search happened during the day times. There was no power, no electricity, no lights, and no communication. Everything was damaged. The guy had a satellite phone and I did research on the Internet. I checked out names, lists of everyone hoping that it will include Fernando’s name in the list of survivors. I went exclusive on many platforms.
Reaching Out to People
I put out descriptions as much as I can. I also went on CNN and they work worldwide, I also got an idea to alert the Surfer too. Maybe there would be people who are surfers in that area or who have been there at that time. Just reached out to them assuming that if they have a surfboard in that area to please paddle around and maybe you can find my brother. The goal was to reach out maximum people as I can.
How did family hold up in those times?
Marcelo: It’s more than tough. Being so far away, there’s not much you can do about it apart from praying or keeping yourself updated regarding the incident. All you can do is check on the Internet, watch TV, and check out the names of the survivors. We all came from Argentine. Our family was there. I have a sister and another brother, but Fernando is an American citizen. We just stayed in touch with the search parties. We believed he could have been survived but it’s tsunami you know. Knowing Fernando – He was a great athlete – surfer, scuba instructor.
He was a Challenger
Physically he was able to do whatever it takes. He has been to remote locations and gone a feral countless number of times. There were times we thought that if he did not die from the power of the wave, he might be lost in the jungle. He might have survived and looked something to communicate. Fernando is strong, he is smart and he knows how to survive well enough. He could survive in the jungle. That was an isolated area. That was just void. But we hoped and hoped again.
It feels like crazy. When you actually know someone who has been in a situation like this, it feels unreal. I still don’t believe it.