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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 18:13 GMT
Survivors tell of miraculous escapes
Clean-up at Phuket
Debris lies across a Phuket beach
British survivors of the Asian earthquake have been involved in amazing rescues and heroic acts of bravery in the aftermath of the disaster which hit the region on Sunday.

One woman saw an elephant carry children to safety, while two men have been credited with saving dozens of lives by plucking people to safety as the floodwater raged past.

Laura Barnett, from north London, was staying in the Thai resort of Phuket when the tsunami struck.

I see myself as a lucky survivor who was in a position where I could help people
Andrew Kelly
British survivor
Several children were playing on one of the island's beaches when the first wave came ashore.

They were pulled onto the back of an elephant by its keeper. The animal had been brought to the beach to entertain the children.

Mrs Barnett, 40, said the elephant enabled them to escape the raging water around them as the wave approached.

She said while her family had escaped "reasonably lightly", the resort's beach was destroyed.

Mrs Barnett said she had visited two hospitals on the island, where between 20 and 25 Britons were being treated.

"These people feel they need help. They want to be able to get home to their families," she said.

She said her family would stay on in Phuket to offer whatever help they could provide.


Andrew 'Ned' Kelly and Nick Ward, from Stourbridge, West Midlands, had been planning to leave Phi Phi island when the tsunami hit.

Nick Kelly and Mark Ward
Mr Kelly, left, and Mr Ward saved as many as 50 people
Instead, they lowered themselved from their hotel room to a nearby rooftop and began dragging people from the water surging past them.

The pair saved as many as 50 people, despite the threat of further waves and the presence of high-voltage power cables near their position.

They then started treating the injured in their hotel room, using bed linen to bandage wounds.

After hearing a second impact was expected, they carried the injured to the second floor of the hotel.

The following day they helped carry people, using improvised stretchers, to helicopters or boats waiting to take casualties to hospital.

But the men reject any suggestion their actions were "heroic".

"I see myself as a lucky survivor who was in a position where I could help people," said 38-year-old Mr Kelly, a West Midlands police sergeant.

Mr Ward, a 35-year-old engraver, added: "It's just what anybody would do. I just did as much as I could."


The pair arrived back in the UK late on Monday night and said they had both been profoundly shaken by the experience.

Photos of missing
Billboards have been set up to help people search for the missing
"It makes you reassess your life. We've got nothing, our clothes were given to people who were there and we're the lucky ones."

A West Midlands firefighter swam against the waters off a Phuket beach to save other tourists as they struggled in the surf.

Birmingham fireman Roy Phillips, a 33-year-old former lifesaver, pulled people to safety despite being cut and bruised himself, his father said.

David Phillips said of his son: "We are very proud. We are thrilled to bits and we are just waiting for him to come back."


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