A floating account of the tidal wave in Sri Lanka

Roland Buerke, BBC:

I'm in a town called Unawatuna, which is on the south coast of Sri Lanka.

We didn't feel the earthquake here so there was no warning at all.

Then at about 1000 this morning our time a huge wave suddenly hit the beach.

We were still in bed in a ground floor room right on the beachfront when we suddenly heard some shouts from outside.

Then the water started coming under the door. Within a few seconds it was touching the window.

We very quickly scrambled to get out as the windows started to cave in and glass shattered everywhere.

We swam out of the room neck deep in water, forcing our way through the tables and chairs in the restaurant and up into a tree.

But within about 30 seconds that tree collapsed as well and we were thrust back into the water where we had to try and keep our heads above the water line.

We were swept along for a few hundred metres, trying to dodge the motorcycles, refrigerators, cars and other debris that were coming with us.

Finally, about 300m inshore, we managed to get hold of a pillar, which we held onto until the waters just gradually began to subside.

Other people though weren't so lucky.

One elderly British gentleman was walking around in a state of shock. His wife had been swimming when the waves struck.

And a family has just walked past carrying a very small bundle with pale white feet poking out the bottom of it.

As they walked past, the teenage son, wearing an England football shirt said in a very matter of fact way "My brother is dead".


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