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Last Updated: Monday, 27 December, 2004, 12:52 GMT
In quotes: Witness accounts
Britons caught up in the sea surges across south and east Asia tell their stories.

Sue Russell lives on the island of Phuket with her husband Angus, where they work at an international school.

It is just chaotic. The worst is hearing reports that there may be more waves coming.

There is very little communication, just text messages.

Phuket, Thailand
"It is like a war zone"

And thousands of people don't know where the loved ones are. They are just walking around, many still in their swimming costumes, trying to find them.

We have lots of friends missing.

Duncan Ridgeley, from Hertfordshire, in Sri Lanka

It was horrible. The waves were floating around me and I got pulled under the water.

I hung on to a fridge and then a nail got stuck in my foot but I managed to get out.

I managed to get hold of my son's hand and reach safety. There are about 30 of us Europeans stuck here with water all around us, with crocodiles and the like surrounding us.

We can't get out. No-one knows we are here.

Simon Clark, from London, in Koh Ngai, Thailand

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

People that were snorkelling were dragged along the coral and washed up on the beach, and people that were sunbathing got washed into the sea.

Mark McBride, from east Belfast, in Thailand

We saw it coming towards us. Our boat was safe but we saw the tidal wave go past and hit the fishing village we had just left.

We then spent six hours at sea waiting because we were not sure if another wave was coming and the captain said he couldn't take us to port because of the danger the boat being washed ashore.

Janette Orr, from Swindon, in Phuket in Thailand

We had literally just left [her daughter], and all we heard was people screaming, running in and this horrendous noise that we thought was a heavy downpour - that is the only way to describe it. We didn't have a clue what it was.

Khao Lak, Thailand
"All we heard was people screaming"

People came in drenched, looking really shocked. I screamed - I thought I had lost my daughter. Steve, my husband, took his shirt off and went running in looking for her. She was hit by trees, sun beds, tables, glass - there was debris everywhere.

The tsunami knocked her down three times. She's only 5ft 2ins and it went up to her throat, she thought she was going to drown. She ran for her life. She's totally in shock - there is nothing I can do to calm her.

Daniel Thebault, from east Jersey, in south-west Sri Lanka

We were having a late breakfast in our hotel, about 50 yards from the beach, when people sitting near the windows started shouting.

We heard a roaring noise and could see ripples of frothy water bubbling up fast from the beach.

Two or three minutes later the waves smashed into the hotel, breaking the windows and hitting the tables.

Then, all of a sudden, the bay emptied of water, and we were able to return to our room on the first floor.

But then the sea started charging ahead again, and for the next two or three hours we were hit by massive waves every 45 minutes or so.

It knocked the hell out of the hotel - which was shuddering - smashing everything on the ground floor to bits.

Great big swathes of the beach are completely washed away, the peninsula has huge gaps where hotels used to be, and the coconut palms are five or six feet under water.

Lili Marfani, from Manchester, in Penang

I was dining in a restaurant built on reclaimed land on the north-east coast off the island, with my family of 20.

We saw what appeared to be a rather rough sea - when we arrived the sea was like a millpond - and we were naturally curious.

Fishing boats were overturned further out to sea.

When the first wave hit the sea wall, the muddy water came in very quickly.

It was thick, grey with filthy mud.

We lost two children when they were completely submerged
Lili Marfani

We started to make our way out of the restaurant.

The second wave came very fast on the heels of the first, and within seconds we were waist deep in this horrible grey mud.

We lost two children when they were completely submerged, and found them by desperately fumbling in the thick mud.

We made our way through falling walls, breaking glass, upturned furniture out of the restaurant.

Our passage was blocked by falling kitchen equipment and vehicles that had been washed away.

When, eventually, we reached a village behind the restaurant, people were walking around lost and bewildered, some were clasping their hands as if to welcome some calamity.

Chaos then ensued as no one seemed to know what had happened.

Passers-by in cars stopped to enquire what had happened - no help was offered in spite of pleas from the children in my party.

Emergency services did not arrive until an hour after the waves struck.

Traffic continued to build up and we continued to be stared at by motorists and passers-by.

We had one car that was functional and that transported us home in two shifts.

We made our own way to a hospital where the children and adults were treated for cuts and bruises and received tetanus injections.

Nicola Barton, from Croydon, Surrey, in the Paradise Island Resort in the Maldives

It is just horrific. It is like a war zone.

There are wooden sun beds floating round the island, chairs from the restaurants and glass smashed everywhere, bulbs from the lighting.

It is just horrific
Nicola Barton

Basically, because we all have beach bungalows, the water came in through the front door.

It was half way up the patio windows - it would have been around waist height as it washed over.

We have all got life jackets in case it happens again.

I feel a bit bemused to be honest, just bemused.

I can't quite comprehend it - we came away for Christmas.

I am a fairly positive person - but there are people here hysterical.


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