It has been almost two weeks since the tsunami swept across parts of south Asia and the African country of Somalia. The death toll continues to climb, exceeding 150,000. Officials say they may never have an accurate count of the dead and missing.
The tsunami did not discriminate. People living in simple fishing villages and tourists on holiday in expensive resorts were all affected. Those who lived are now telling their stories of survival.
The Breisch family, from Salt Lake City Utah, was on vacation in Thailand when the Tsunami
hit. Younger son Jai relives the experience. He says, "I saw a big wave coming in that was just going to... that was taller than the whole bungalow we were staying in, about 15 or 20 feet high. Two stories. And I said, 'Kali, we've got to get out of here.' I opened the door and I heard the loudest crash that you could ever hear. Things would float on top of me and I couldn't breath. I was really struggling for my life."
Jai's father Stu was nearby and recounts the events. "At the end, he was only in about 4 feet of water and he couldn't put his feet on the ground because the water was carrying him too fast," he said.
The Breisch daughter, 15-year-old Kali, disappeared -- the family search for her ended in heartbreak. His other daughter saw a picture of her on the poster board of deceased people. She said, "Dad this is her! This is her! Oh, my God. It is her. That's her..."
Her father takes a look at the photo. "It's hard to be here and yet this is the last place I saw her. And I have fond memories of her. I had a really good time here before this, before this happened," he said.
Eranthie Mendis, an American visiting Sri Lanka for a family wedding, was traveling by train with her mother, Ami. "We were going on the train and then the train just stopped and people started screaming and we thought -- we were looking out the window -- and we thought we had hit someone, and all of a sudden people started running out of this village and then just a few seconds afterwards, right behind them, was just this big wall of water that's coming, chasing them. Out the window you could see scenes of houses breaking and roofs are toppling and people are already in the water, then the water just kept coming in to about our knees and after that it slowly receded and so people on the train were just very emotional."
Ms. Mendis continued, "
Then we saw the second wave coming and I guess, even at the moment, Ami and I didn't panic so much because the first wave had come and gone, so I really thought that one also would come and go. The water just kept coming, and kept coming, and kept coming. And eventually the weight of the water must have tipped the carriage on the side that Ami was standing on and the water just filled all the way up toward the top. And so everyone was submerged, so in a sense there wasn't a panic then because you couldn't hear anything under the water, and by this time the side window is on top.
That's how I managed to get out. I kicked my way up to the window and held on the window and climbed out. So then the regular door to enter the train was there and I went in and Ami was there, on the floor. And so I was just looking at her and I think someone shouted to do CPR or pump her stomach, and so I knelt out and started and a lot of water did come out and so it gives you hope, maybe," she said.
Unfortunately, Eranthie's mother, Ami, did not survive.
Neither did a friend of this British tourist, who says she regrets not doing more. She said, "There was another girl, there was a girl who I can't find, her name was Matilda and she was from Argentina, and we were in the seat together. When it went under she said, 'Take my hand,' and I said, 'No I can't,' because I know you can't hold onto someone, you've got to be strong and on your own, and I didn't take her hand. So when the next wave came, she didn't come back up, so if I had held her hand, maybe she would have come back up."
Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, an American of Sri Lankan descent who was on vacation in her native land when the disaster occurred, says the rest of the world will not regret sending aid. She said, "I feel so lucky. I feel much more connected to things like this that happen all over the world. We often see things like this on TV and sort of feel a distance, and say, 'Well I can't really help, nothing I can do.' I can see how anything can help, the smallest donation, clothes, money, medicines, can make a huge impact in many people's lives."