- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

From combined dispatches

LONDON — A 10-year-old British girl saved about 100 other tourists from the Asian tsunami by warning them that a giant mass of water was on its way after having learned about the phenomenon weeks earlier at school, a newspaper reported.

“I was on the beach, and the water started to go funny,” Tilly Smith told the Sun during the weekend from Phuket, Thailand.

“There were bubbles, and the tide went out all of a sudden. I recognized what was happening and had a feeling there was going to be a tsunami. I told mummy.”

While other tourists stood and stared as the disappearing waters left boats and fish stranded on the sand, Tilly recognized the danger signs because she had done a school project on giant waves caused by underwater earthquakes.

Quick action by her mother and Thai hotel staff meant Maikhao beach was cleared quickly, just minutes before a huge wave crashed ashore. The beach was one of the few on Phuket island where no one was killed.

Meanwhile, in Chinnakalapet, India, the family pooch is credited with saving a 7-year-old boy.

When her husband screamed “Run away” after spotting the giant waves, Sangeeta had three sons to save, but just two arms. She grabbed the two youngest and ran — reasoning that Dinakaran, 7, had the best chance of outrunning the waves.

When the boy didn’t follow, Sangeeta was crushed by grief, thinking she never would see him again. The family dog ensured she did.

Dinakaran had not followed her but had run to the safest place he knew — the family’s small, concrete-walled hut 40 yards from the shore.

While water lapped at Sangeeta’s heels as she rushed up the hill, the scruffy yellow dog named Selvakumar ducked into the hut after the boy. Nipping and nudging, he did everything in his canine power to get the boy up the hill.

“I had heard from others that the wall of my house had collapsed. I felt sure that my child had died,” the 24-year-old mother said.

Selvakumar looks pretty much like every other mongrel in the village. He hardly ever barks and lets the three boys climb on him and pull his tail without protest. At night, he sleeps among the family members, no matter how many times they throw him out.

Most days, the dog escorts Dinakaran to and from school and spends the rest of the day playing with the other two boys or begging for food.

Dinakaran credited the dog with saving his life.

“That dog grabbed me by the collar of my shirt,” the boy said from under some trees at Pondicherry University, where the family waited for relief aid. “He dragged me out.”

Sangeeta said she wept with joy when she saw her eldest son. She said she thinks some special spirit, perhaps her brother-in-law’s, resides in the dog.



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