- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 29, 2004

BANGKOK — A German statesman, a Czech supermodel and a Swedish Olympic ski champion were among the vacationers whose search for peace and sun in tropical southern Asia was shattered by the tsunami that spared neither rich nor poor.

The family of Hollywood actor-director Richard Attenborough, who played the park owner in “Jurassic Park,” also suffered tragedy. Mr. Attenborough’s granddaughter, Lucy, 14, died, and his daughter, Jane, and her mother-in-law are missing in Phuket, Thailand. His granddaughter, Alice, 17, was being treated in a hospital.

On Thailand’s Phi Phi island, where “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed, 200 bungalows at two resorts were swept out to sea, and resort officials said many foreign tourists were among the missing.

When the raging ocean waters subsided, 7-year-old Karl Nilsson from Sweden thought that he had been transported to another city. He was still in the same place, but his parents and two brothers, with him moments before, had vanished.

Karl is being cared for in Phuket by a Swedish family and hopes his own relatives are not among the more than 1,500 people killed when a tsunami overwhelmed this tropical paradise Sunday, pushed by an undersea earthquake hundreds of miles away in the Indian Ocean.

An Italian tour operator went through hospitals in Phuket waving his country’s green, white and red flag to attract attention and succeeded in tracking down at least 50 compatriots who survived the tidal waves.

“The hospitals are packed,” ANSA news agency quoted Olinto Barletta as saying. “I carried the Italian flag and was approached by fellow Italians. In the end, I managed to get a hold of 50, and each of them had a friend or relative missing. The real problem is the missing persons.”

Petra Nemcova, the Czech model who appeared on the cover of 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, survived being carried away with her boyfriend, fashion photographer Simon Atlee, after a huge wave plowed into southern Thailand on Sunday.

Miss Nemcova’s New York spokesman, Rob Shuter, said the model and her boyfriend had been vacationing in Phuket when waves overwhelmed their beach hut.

Miss Nemcova, 25, clung to a tree for eight hours as the water swirled around her. She was recovering in a Thai hospital from broken bones, possibly including a broken pelvis, and unspecified internal injuries.

Mr. Atlee, 33, was swallowed by the raging waters and was still missing yesterday.

“I’ve spoken to Petra several times, and she’s in pretty bad shape,” Mr. Shuter said. “She’s on pain medication. She probably doesn’t realize yet the magnitude of the disaster.”

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was vacationing in Sri Lanka’s pristine south — one of the areas most devastated by the tsunami.

Mr. Kohl and his entourage were evacuated yesterday from a hotel by the Sri Lankan air force.

“The helicopter went and we managed to bring him back with six others,” said Commander Air Marshal Donald Perera.

Hundreds of Americans remained missing yesterday, but the State Department said a large number had been located and are safe. It said 12 Americans had died, seven in Sri Lanka and five in Thailand.

Swedish skiing great Ingemar Stenmark was sunbathing in Thailand when he saw an immense wave roaring to shore. He ran for his life.

Mr. Stenmark, who won two gold medals at the 1980 Olympics and 86 World Cup races, was with friends in Khok Kloi, about 30 miles from Phuket.

“The water from the first wave disappeared, but then it came back with terrifying speed,” he told Swedish press. He and his girlfriend were not injured.

Another athlete was not so lucky. Troy Broadbridge, an Australian Rules football player, was on his honeymoon in Phuket when he and his bride, Trisha, were swamped as they strolled along a beach. She survived, but her husband was still missing yesterday.

Several Italian soccer players, including AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi, Milan captain Paolo Maldini and Juventus defender Gianluca Zambrotta, were caught in the maelstrom in the Maldives but were not hurt.

Thailand’s royal family also was among the grieving. The Thai-American grandson of King Bhumipol Adulyadej, Poom Jensen, 21, was reportedly jet-skiing when the tidal wave struck Phuket. His body was found later.

Designer Nate Berkus, a regular contributor on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” survived being carried away with a friend by a tsunami after it ripped off the roof of their hut in Sri Lanka.

They briefly clung to a telephone poll, but a second wave ripped them away. Mr. Berkus climbed to safety on the roof of a submerged home — but his friend disappeared into the raging sea.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.`



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