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Last Updated: Monday, 27 December, 2004, 08:11 GMT
In quotes: Witness accounts
People caught up in the huge waves crashing along coastlines across south and east Asia tell their stories.

"I was 100m away from the beach but I could see a big swell coming in from about one kilometre out. It was very white with lots of bubbles and it was moving faster and faster towards the shoreline.

As it approached I stood there and watched until someone shouted 'run' and I ran and ran. I didn't even stop when I came to a busy road.

About 12 hours later I went back and there was mud everywhere. I didn't see any bodies but I heard there had been deaths. I'm still afraid and I can't sleep."

Mohd Jowhar, Penang, Malaysia

"I just couldn't believe what was happening before my eyes.

Flooded homes on the Thai island of Phuket (courtesy of Maurice de Jong)
'It was complete panic, there was nothing left on the beach'

As I was standing there, a car actually floated into the lobby and overturned because the current was so strong.

The water was up to my chest and I was holding onto my friend's hand because he can't swim."

Boree Carlsson, Phuket, Thailand

"If you were on the beach, you were stuck... we heard screaming as a great surge came over the beach and onto the road, flooding the shops and hotel garden.

The beach umbrellas and sunbeds were like dolls' furniture as they were swept inland.

The surge continued, and dozens of cars were swept along the road like floating toys. It was absolute chaos - very scary."

Mike Williams, Phuket, Thailand

"The buildings around me collapsed and I was thrown into the surge.

When I came up there was a branch I grabbed on and held. Surviving the receding tides was hardest.

Pinned against a tree by the water, debris and bodies started to pile up against me and it felt like I was being crushed. In the end, the whole resort was gone.

There are many others like me - lost, dazed and searching for their loved ones."

Kevin Aldrich, Phang Nga, Thailand

"It happened in cycles. There would be a surge and then it would retreat and then there would be a next surge which was more violent and it went on like that.

A Buddha statue stands amongst the devastation in Phuket, Thailand
'It was complete panic, everyone was crying, there was nothing left'

Then there was this one almighty surge. I mean, literally, this was the one which was picking up pickup trucks and motorcycles and throwing them around in front of us."

Paul Ramsbottom, Phuket, Thailand

"I was just sitting on my terrace and I thought I saw my car moving, then the electricity pylons started to shake. The tremor lasted about 10 minutes.

I ran down to the beach. It was complete panic, everyone was crying, there was nothing left."

Maurice de Jong, Phuket, Thailand

"Suddenly this huge wave came, rushing down the beach, destroying everything in its wake.

People who were snorkelling were dragged along the coral and washed up on the beach, and people who were sunbathing got washed into the seas."

Simon Clark, Ngai island, Thailand

"I ran out with my room-mate when I felt the first tremors and saw chaos. Some old buildings had collapsed. There were huge cracks on the runway."

M.S. Rao, Andaman Islands

"My wife and my eldest daughter were in our hotel room on the first floor in Mahabalipuram when a monster wave came in the window.

I could hear them screaming and two village men came running to help but the floor split into two, leaving cracks in between and my wife's leg got stuck inside.

My wife was pulling my daughter's skirt to keep her alive and away from the wave. We got out safely and went to Chennai, but it was a miraculous escape."

Rahul Thiagarajan, Chennai, India

"I was shocked to see innumerable fishing boats flying on the shoulder of the waves, going back and forth into the sea, as if made of paper.

Many boats were upturned, but fishermen were still holding onto them. They also were pushed into the sea.

I had never imagined anything like this could happen."

P. Ramanamurthy, Andra Pradesh, India

"After the earthquake, when we were sitting at home, suddenly a big wave came. It was so big that people who were near the sea had no chance to survive.

A family walks along a flooded street in Madras, India
'In some parts the sea was up to chest level'

It was with big force, many children who were playing at that time died.

A lot of old people have died. Around 10 children who were playing at the beach are missing."

Sounder Rajan, Madras, India

"It was early in the morning and I was sorting my catch from the fishing net when I saw the waves climbing alarmingly.

I rushed back and pulled my wife and two children out of our home, water had rushed into our hut by then."

Ravichandran, fisherman, Elliot's Beach, Madras, India

"The water simply raised itself up and huge waves came ashore. It was moving very fast. The impact smashed the glass walls of a restaurant on the beach here and damaged hundreds of boats.

It was more than four feet high. But the water level went down very quickly, after about 15 minutes."

Peter Thomas, Kochi, India

"The scene I witnessed on the streets around the Marina Beach was heartrending.

People were running here and there on the roads with little bags and suitcases, some in their nighties, with tears in their eyes and taking shelter in the temples."

Rani Balaji, Chennai, India

"On Madras beach some were drenched up to their hips, some up to their chests, some all over and some of them were so drenched that they had already stopped breathing.

Men and women, old and young, all were running for lives. It was a horrible sight to see.

The relief workers could not attend to all the dead and all the alive.

The dead were dropped and the half-alive were carried to safety.

Old women had to be carried in chairs or transported by rickshaws.

People scrambled what they could from their homes."

Nanda Kishore, Chennai, India

"The weather was fine with no clouds, there was no warning and suddenly the sea water just hit the city. In some parts the water was up to chest level."

Bustami, Lhokseumawe, Indonesia

"I counted 24 bodies in a stretch of only six km (3.7 miles). I saw bodies of children entangled in wire mesh used to barricade seaside homes.

There were rows and rows of women and men standing on the road and asking if anyone has seen their family members.

I also saw people bringing in bodies from the sea beaches and placing them on roads and covering them with sarongs."

Gemunu Amarasinghe, south of Colombo, Sri Lanka

"I was down south at a tourist hotel when the waves began to strike, the ground floor was flooded, sunbeds, trees crushed.

I saw a man who stayed on a rock regardless of what people were telling him get swept away and killed.

The hotels, water and electricity supply has been knocked out.

I evacuated the hotel and the car was almost hit by a wave we were lucky to get out and take an inland route back to Colombo."

Jimmy, Colombo, Sri Lanka

"You can't imagine the infrastructural damage caused by this huge wave.

Some of the down south towns have washed away leaving no trace of landmarks... All the costal railway lines are shutdown.

It is difficult to get drinking water in these areas as wells are contaminated with salt water. I am stilling living in fear as I wrote this email... We know there is another wave coming soon. I hope and pray it is not huge as the previous tide, as the damage already taken place."

Jagath J Jayasekera, Colombo, Sri Lanka


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