: The Age asks readers to send in their stories and this comes from an Australian near Phuket:
We came to Koh Tao on a two week holiday to relax in the sun……
I was standing on the beach about 30 meters from the shoreline at a dive shop when I heard raised voices and looked around. The deck chairs that were lining the beach were floating toward me. It was a bit confusing at first as nobody had any idea what was going on. There was no loud noise or wind, just all of a sudden the sea had risen a good 10 meters.
Then the wave sucked out away from the shore a few hundred meters, exposing the coral reef that I had dived on a few days earlier. That’s when people really realised something was terribly wrong. All of a sudden all the dive instructors and staff of the nearby restaraunt ran down the beach to see if anyone was pulled out, only to find themselves faced with a surging ocean at least 15 meters high. At this point I was standing on a small cement wall at the top of the beach and watched as they scrambled up the beach and up the steep hillside on the edge of the bay.
When the second wave came in it simply tore apart the wooden buildings that sat at the top of the beach, the water came up to my knees and very neally took me off the wall. When the second wave sucked out, everyone who could bolted for the slopes on the sides of the bay.
The third and probably largest wave came surging forward and simply ripped apart the cement buildings like they were made of balsa wood. I saw a friend of mine scramble onto a roof about 5 meters from me as the water reached its peak – only to hear a loud crack and see the roof lurch badly. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the entire roof – with my friend on top, floated to the side and was sucked out into the bay and out of sight.
It just seemed so impossible, 10 minutes earlier we had been sitting down on the beach drinking a coffee, and now the entire beach had been ripped apart and my friend and all the buildings were simply gone.
The waves continued for a good hour after, gradually getting smaller only to reveal the complete devastation left behind. There was complete confusion as people were running around trying to find each other – or simply sitting in the wreckage with vacant looks on their faces. Later I found out that my friend had been rescued by boat with a mild concussion and lacerations from all the wreckage in the water and is at this moment in Phuket hospital….
: The dramatic first-person account of a Washington Post reporter who swam through the tsunami off Sri Lanka:
I was a quarter way around the island when I heard my brother shouting at me, “Come back! Come back! There’s something strange happening with the sea.” He was swimming behind me, but closer to the shore.
I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about. All seemed peaceful….
Then I noticed that the water around me was rising, climbing up the rock walls of the island with astonishing speed. The vast circle of golden sand around Weligama Bay was disappearing rapidly, and the water had reached the level of the coastal road, fringed with palm trees….
Instead of the ark, I grabbed a wooden catamaran that the local people used as a fishing boat. My brother jumped on the boat next to me. We bobbed up and down on the catamaran as the water rushed past us into the village beyond the road.
After a few minutes, the water stopped rising, and I felt it was safe to swim to the shore. What I did not realize was that the floodwaters would recede as quickly and dramatically as they had risen.
All of a sudden, I found myself being swept out to sea with startling speed. Although I am a fairly strong swimmer, I was unable to withstand the current. The fishing boats around me had been torn from their moorings, and were bobbing up and down furiously.
: The science of a tsunami: