Sailors wait to the count the cost of giant waves in South East Asia

An earthquake which caused giant seas to sweep across South East Asia is sure to have caused the loss of cruising yachts – and maybe the lives of their crew.

The death toll stands at over 10,000 but there are no clear reports of what has happened to cruising yachts in the waters around Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Blue water cruisers are likely to have been in port, enjoying Christmas celebrations, when the high seas struck.

The Phi Phi islands near Phuket in Thailand were among the areas struck by 6m seas. The normally protected islands are a favourite with yachtsmen and charterers.

One English couple were on board their boat off Phuket when the first wave hit. They immediately headed out for deeper water and rode out the swell.

The unexpected nature of the quake, couple with disruption and low staffing levels over the Christmas period has meant that news has been slow to emerge from stricken areas.