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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December, 2004, 18:46 GMT
In the wake of the tsunami
People collect their belongings in India
Sea surges swept across the Indian Ocean on Sunday causing death and destruction.

People living in the region told BBC News about their experiences during and after the earthquake and resulting tsunami.

GRAEME PIETERSZ, COLOMBO, SRI LANKA

Graeme Pietersz lives in Sri Lanka with his wife and two year-old daughter. He has an investment research company.

Everyone knows someone who has died or is missing.

With us, thankfully, it is not close family or friends. Others are not so lucky.

After the disaster, everyone found it hard to make phone calls to friends and family, fearing that their news may be bad.

I have heard terrifying stories.

It was absolute and uncomplicated grief
My friend told me of their friend who was caught leaving a hotel when the tsunami struck. The wave came in and she clung to a car. When it retreated, it took her husband and children with it.

The family of my sister's maid have been struck hard. The brother-in-law was in the bus that was taken out to sea, and a son who was driving a taxi has not contacted them since the tsunami.

I had never seen a woman cry like her before. It was absolute and uncomplicated grief.

I live outside Colombo in a satellite town. White flags, the colour of mourning, are draped over shops and house. The streets are quiet, but things are functioning quite normally.

Everyone wants to do something, but they are not sure what to do.

A friend who has a van for his dry-cleaning business has loaded up the vehicle with food and clothing and driven to the worst-hit areas to distribute the supplies.

I have seen this sort of kind and unselfish behaviour with smaller crises before; it is a very Sri Lankan response.

ALI AMJAD, MALE, MALDIVES

Ali Amjad works in the construction industry and lives in Male. His family live on a peripheral island called Nolhizaransaru, 45 minutes flight from the capital.

I have never been so terrified.

The wave engulfed everything. It took whatever was in its path.

I was frightened for my family, who live on an island far away from Male.

The men watched the sea for any changes that could signify another tsunami
I did not hear from them for 14 hours after the waves struck. I didn't know who was alive or dead. Eventually communication was reinstalled and I heard that some people on the island were injured, but no-one had lost their lives.

On Nolhizaransaru, they trekked to higher ground. The women and children huddled together and tried to sleep in the playground, while the men watched the sea for any changes that could signify another tsunami.

Many of the islands have now received aid. The Indian government, the local government and many more have been so generous. Help is desperately needed. Water, food and clothing got through to Nolhizaransaru yesterday. The outer islands were the last to get help.

Building materials for my business were all washed away. We cannot work. I have sent the employees out to help clean up the streets and public buildings. It is a huge job - it will take months to be back to normal.

STEPHEN, BATU FERRINGI, MALAYSIA

Stephen works as a software engineer in the Batu Ferringi area of Penang, Malaysia. He lives with his wife.

From our apartment on the 12th floor, we saw the terrible destruction.

The scenes of death will not leave me
The first thing was the strange blasting sound. We looked out of the window and saw the tip of the big wave and rippling on the surface of the sea.

There were lots of people on the beach and swimming in the sea. The beach lies in between two sea walls and this is why there were so many deaths.

When the waves came, they smashed people against the walls. It enveloped everything and took the bodies with the retreating sea. There were many children killed.

The fisherman went out in their boats and picked up the bodies.

We have been told not to use the Penang Bridge - it is thought to be unsafe - so we are waiting here. We watch the news and see the scenes of devastation.

People are keeping themselves busy by cleaning up. They are trying to get back to normal, but it is not easy.

The scenes of death will not leave me.

I am haunted by an image of a woman brought back to the beach by the sea that claimed her life.




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