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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 18:05 GMT
Family's missing backpacker fears
Leanne Cox
Leanne had arrived in Thailand just before Christmas
The family of a backpacker from Hartlepool who is missing following the Asian tsunami have spoken of their anxious search for information.

Leanne Cox, 23, arrived in Thailand just before Christmas and was last seen by friends on Phi Phi just before the water swept in on Boxing Day.

Her father Alan and stepmother Diane said friends told them how they had seen her trying to climb a tree.

They have been searching websites to try and find news about her.

Leanne left England in November 2003 after graduating from university to go travelling with friends.

They spent a year in Australia, then went on to New Zealand and Singapore before arriving in Thailand.

Mr and Mrs Cox said they had spoken to her on Christmas Day when she was very happy and had described it as a paradise island.

Alan and Diane Cox
They have been searching websites for information

Mr Cox said: "What I've been told now is that they'd had breakfast and were dressed and had come back in the room.

"And they just heard this enormous noise which they thought was an earthquake, then suddenly - they were on the beach in a beach hut and the place just seemed to collapse with the water.

"They were then sort of carried along with the water. They were fairly close but then the currents were that strong they just forced them apart.

"As the first wave subsided, Leanne's best friend saw her apparently trying to climb a tree but then she was carried further along."

The couple said they were struggling to get information about their daughter because she was an independent traveller, but had had been looking through websites.

Mrs Cox said: "Unfortunately Leanne falls into a particular group that is unidentifiable, she's an independent traveller.


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