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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December, 2004, 17:52 GMT
In quotes: Witness accounts
The stories of Britons caught up in the sea surges across south and east Asia.


Nigel Willgrass, from Colney, near Norwich, lost his wife Louise in Thailand after she got out of their hire car to buy sun cream in a supermarket.

After trying to find her, he later found her body at a local hospital. The father-of-four has since returned to the UK.

The supermarket was full of water right to the top so I stood on top of buildings and called for her and she wasn't there.

[In the hospital] there was a door on the right-hand side that said 'morgue' and she was in there with many, many other people.

I wanted to take her wedding ring and they wouldn't let me. There was nobody there for me. It was just awful.


Chris Jones, from Windsor

My beautiful sister Lisa died when the tsunami hit the tiny Koh Phra Thong island in Thailand. She was a conservationist, and had dedicated her short life to helping wildlife and the environment. She was 31.

Her brother Mark and I and our family are absolutely dumbstruck. She will leave a massive hole in the lives of everyone who knew and loved her. We miss her terribly already, the world was a better place with her in it.

The island has been evacuated, she was one of three casualties. However her body is still on the island, I've heard nothing from the Foreign Office, the makeshift British Embassy in Phuket is trying to help but is snowed under. I want her body recovered but I feel useless so far away...


Ben Chod, London

I have been just married for a week and been spending our honeymoon in Bentota, Sri Lanka. Sharon (my wife) went down to the beach this morning to sunbathe and I have not seen her since. All I saw was a big wall of water coming down on the place where her sunbed was. She was probably fast asleep. I'm absolutely devastated.


Stephen Gill, 31, from Sheffield, was in his hotel room in Patong, Thailand, with his girlfriend, Sharon Webb, 36, when the water hit. They have since returned to the UK.

We were in bed on Boxing Day morning at 10am. The air conditioning went off and I thought it was a power cut but it woke me.

Then I heard thundering, crashing, and people screaming.

There were people floating and cars floating down the streets. Jet skis and boats ended up down the alleyways
Returning British tourist Lloyd Dennison

I looked out of the window and there was a huge torrent of water 10ft deep. Three men were being swept along the beach and were screaming.

Then the water started filling the room.

I screamed 'Get out' and ran to the door but the water was waist deep. There were fish in the room flapping about and we couldn't work out what it was...

The water was up to our necks. We tried to run down the corridor but couldn't so we went to the reception of the hotel and there were people dead in there.

I tried to resuscitate a Thai boy but he had been dead for a while by then. He was only about three. It was awful.

Then we saw bodies being stretchered past our hotel, and there were cars in the hotel pool.


Tanya Smart, 42, from Lewes, East Sussex, was staying in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka, with her family.

They waited three days in a guesthouse with 150 others until they were rescued, and faced the grim task of burying those who died.

The Sri Lankans buried their dead and we buried ours.

They were all identified, there were two western children - babies...babies.

We buried them, we had left them for a while because we didn't want to bury them without a box but then we were worried about disease because it was so hot.

They were buried in a field. The families were there, the two babies, their mothers were there alive


Nicholas Ward, 35, from Stourbridge, West Midlands, was standing on a hotel balcony with a friend on Koh Phi Phi in Thailand when the waves swept in.

A Japanese mother and daughter were sitting on a chest, we just pulled them through and then there was an English girl, Alison, we just pulled her through.

There was a lot of injured people, we just put all our mattresses on the roof. The next day they did the evacuation and stretchered a lot of people to a helipad.

There were people fighting on the longtail boats, there were people just pulling on them. They were overcrowded, it wasn't safe.


BBC correspondent Roland Buerk was in Unawatuna, on the south coast of Sri Lanka, when the tsunami hit.

He was washed 300 metres inland as his hotel room collapsed and had to cling to a tree and then a pillar until the waters began to subside, exposing the devastation the waves had caused.

One elderly British gentleman was walking around in a state of shock. His wife had been swimming when the waves struck.

And a family walked past carrying a very small bundle with pale white feet poking out the bottom of it.

As they walked past, the teenage son, wearing an England football shirt, said in a very matter of fact way: 'My brother is dead'.


Diving instructor Amy Harding, 24, was stranded on the roof of a hotel on the Thai island of Ko Phi Phi overnight after managing to scramble clear of the water.

Her brother, trainee accountant Mike, 27, of Neston, Cheshire, said she sent him a text describing the devastation around her.

I got the text when I woke up at about 10am and Amy said the island had been hit by a tidal wave but she was OK.

She said her Israeli boyfriend was missing and that she was sat on a hotel roof with sea either side of her.


Lillian and Trevor Hallam from Nottingham

We saw the water coming towards us. A tuk tuk driver told us to get in. We raced from the waves. He took us to high ground where we joined thousands of others


Richard Pratt, in Sri Lanka contacted his mother Jenny, in Garmouth, in Morayshire, to let her know he was safe.

He said that his hotel was washed away. He came out of the bedroom and noticed water all around the floor then he looked up and he saw this huge great mass of sea. He said it wasn't like a wave but the whole of the sea area seemed to lift up.

They held onto the window frame of the hotel, he and his mate, then the wave came back again in a second wave. They have been cut and bruised quite badly and are living like refugees.




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