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Planning to stay over Christmas and New Year 2004, Irene and I travelled to Sri Lanka with Saga. As the world now knows, our trip was rudely interrupted. We were sunbathing in the hotel gardens, within a few yards of the beach, when the tsumani wave struck.

AVI Video Clip 1 - 160KB

To allow time to view the information in this 1 second clip, set your media player to Play - Repeat (or similar). A gentle flow of water into the garden can be seen as very large waves approach and people from the beach run to safety through the gardens of the hotel - the normal level of the sea was about 1.5 to 2 metres below the garden level.

Thanks to the prompt and brave actions of the hotel staff (Tangerine Beach Hotel, Kalutara) we were rushed to safety and suffered only abrasions and bruises as the waves and debris caught us - the selfless actions of the hotel staff cannot be praised highly enough.

They continued to support and care for us until Saga were able to arrange a coach to take us to Colombo for a few hours prior to putting us on a flight back to the UK. After reaching the UK, Saga provided a chauffeur-driven car to take us to our home in County Durham.

Our friends and relatives in the UK were saved from extended worry by Saga's prompt contact with our Son, as next-of-kin, advising him that all in our party were accounted for.

We are acutely aware that we may well owe our lives to the hotel staff and to them we give our heat-felt thanks. Our thanks must also go the all Saga staff, including Bradley (our Saga representative), the Saga team in Colombo and those in the UK.

The first series of waves ripped into the ground floor of the hotel and guests using rooms there lost almost everything; about half the Saga guests in our party suffered in this way. Fortunately, although much property was lost and some people suffered injuries that will take a while to heal, all guests lived to tell the tale.

AVI Video Clip 2 - 1MB

In this second (much larger) clip, the debris from the second series of waves can be seen swirling in the garden behind the hotel. Most of this debris is the contents of the ground floor rooms including suitcases, clothes televisions, fridges beds, chairs and other furniture.

AVI Video Clip 3 - 1.4MB

The third and final video clip shows the debris after the third series of waves caused further damage. The contents of the rooms have now been joined by heavy wooden sunbeds, which must have been swept through the devastated ground floor.

My next additions will, hopefully, be happier pictures from the trip before it was rudely interrupted. In the meantime our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world whose lives have been devastated by this disaster.

Also see Holiday Experiences in Taprobane

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