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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 January, 2005, 15:07 GMT
Surfer 'rides tsunami to safety'
A wrecked boat
The force of the wave brought boats far inland
A British tourist has described how he survived the Asian tsunami by riding it to safety on a surfboard.

Joe Pritchard revealed how he survived the devastation, when he flew home from the coast of Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Mr Pritchard, 17, from Dorset, said the tsunami took the form of a "surge" of water at the resort of Midigama.

That allowed the competition surfer to ride his board while a packed bus was swept away. Others in his group also managed to escape the wave.

There were people screaming everywhere, buses packed with people
Joe Pritchard
Mr Pritchard, from Charmouth, said: "I was walking along the beach, it was low tide and the water started lapping up against the walls of the guest house.

"I thought "What's going on?".

"I put my leash back on and jumped back in the water, there was a surge of water which came through and pushed the walls down.

"There were people screaming everywhere, buses packed with people.

"They were being turned over and washed straight back into the jungle."

Swept inland

But Mr Pritchard was carried out by the receding tide half a mile across sand and coral from where he ran to safety.

He was accompanied by Gary Wells, 21, from Paignton, Devon, at the time.

Gary's brother Danny, 20, was swept inland but survived unhurt.

Fellow surfer Steven Grant, 26, from Bristol was inside the guest house where the team were staying when the water struck.

He said: "A little bit of water lapped up under my door. I thought 'What is this?'.

"Then the front wall caved in. The next we knew, we were washed into the jungle 50 to 100 metres."

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