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Tsunami tragedy: Your e-mails

Phuket resident John Woodburn captured the destruction on the Thai island in this photo.
• Aid groups: How to help
• Gallery: Stories of survival
• Flash: How tsunamis form
• Special report: After the tsunami
Sri Lanka

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Here are a selection of eyewitness accounts from people who have written in with their experiences of the devastation. Send us an e-mail if you witnessed the tsunamis or the aftermath.

We had just arrived on Phi Phi Island and checked in in our beach bungalow at Phi Phi Island Cabana. After being in our bungalow for 10 mins, I heard a noise outside and asked my husband what it was. I opened the door and saw water coming our way and people screaming and running away from the beach. Our bungalow was 50 meters from the beach. The water was coming so quick that we had no time to run or do anything. Our bungalow was a couple feet from the ground. Then we climbed the railing, the water crested at our necks -- about 12 feet high. We felt the water shift and all go back to the ocean with incredible power. We hung on to a 2x4 edge on the roof of our cabana. We could barely hang on and saw debris and a young girl flow by us. Our fingers were shredded by the pressure and hanging on to the roof of our cabana. After the first wave, we ran for the top of a 3-story hotel. A second wave came not with us not knowing if the building would hold. Everyone is panicking and saying there is another wave coming 7 meters high so we ran for the moutains and spent the night there but the wave did not come. We were rescued the next morning. We are very fortunate as our bungalow was on cement pads: most of the other bungalows on Phi Phi island were completly destroyed. we are very thankful and fortunate to be alive. We have met many people who lost loved ones.
Carolle and Evan, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada

My father, my mother, our driver and I were on our way to Kataragama, where there is a famous shrine. When we got to Payagala, next to the sea, we were stopped. My father and the driver got out of the car and went near the beach. Suddenly there was a big muddy wave coming towards us. The driver got in the car but my father didn't take the wave seriously and was caught up in it. I saw him get washed away, as the three of us inside the car got drifted towards a nearby canal. The car went circling through the current and slowly filled with water. It was hit by couple of trees that shattered the glasses. Then it came to a stop so I got out of the car through the window. Everyone was expressionless as they searched for loved ones who were with them seconds ago. I went near the canal again and saw a man helping my father who was looking exhausted, after fighting the waves, to come to safety. I have never heard or experienced such a thing before. I will never forget the huge wave as tall as a palm tree coming right towards us. Vindya Gunawardena, Colombo, Sri Lanka

I went for breakfast by the beach in Surin, Phuket, Thailand. I felt my chair shaking at 8.15 a.m. and after a while realized it was an earthquake. At about 10 a.m., I was sending emails in Kamala when suddenly the water level in the small river nearby rose dramatically. Then a car with a smashed windshield floated by. As I left the Internet place the water had reached the street. There was general panic. I drove home and decided the best bet was to stay there, further away from the beach. Friends started to call me about a massive tsunami in Phuket. Electricity was cut. After a few hours I went to see the devastation in Kamala. It was like the aftermath of a bomb, a total mess, with fatalities. I saw a dead boy, aged about four, being carried away by his father. It was terrible. There is devastation everywhere near the beach area. The human suffering and economic cost of this catastrophe is difficult to comprehend. Joni Makivirta, Kamala, Thailand

I did not feel the aftershock but just before 1.30 p.m. local time I stood up to look at the sea and was stunned to see a huge whirlpool in front of my apartment. To my right, I could see the tsunami heading on towards the northeast corner of Penang. As the waves approached the shallows, it was possible to see them rise in height and crash onto the shoreline. It looked like a giant washing machine in front of my apartment. We were lucky as we were away from the beach and up the hill behind. There was no warning. Reuben Walters, Penang, Malaysia

My parents live in Chennai and at about 6.40 a.m. my mum, who was on the phone, felt the chair shaking. She immediately rushed out of the house and saw chaos all around. My father had gone for his morning walk and came back just in time. My friend happened to have been by the beach around 8 a.m. and felt that the water level was higher than ever and it was by luck that he reached his home before the tsunami hit the beach. Had he been there for another half hour or so, he would have been washed away. The entire Marina Beach resembles a graveyard, strewn with debris, silt and fish. Chennai and the entire East Coast seem to resemble a morgue. I pray for the safety of the people and Godspeed for all efforts. Venkat, Chennai, India

My best friend and her family are vacationing in Thailand on Koh Khao Island in Thailand. I received a telephone message from her -- finally -- yesterday morning saying they were all OK, that there tsunami and they ran to the mountains. She said things are really bad there right now. They're camping atop a mountain in a small camp, sleeping on the ground. Lina Krickemeyer, Langley, British Columbia

I was in the office yesterday morning at about 8.30 when police banged on the door telling me to vacate the building because the waves were so high near Colombo (Wellawatte, Bambalapiiy and Kolpity areas). I closed down every thing and rushed out. Dushan, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The following link may be helpful for readers with relatives in Phuket Thailand. link Sasithorn, Thailand

My wife is holidaying in Phuket, staying at the Kabina Beach Hotel (now destroyed) when the first wave hit. She was in her room and the whole room was filled with water -- she almost drowned. She then ran to the hotel lobby just before a second wave hit. She managed to climb to the top of a 20-meter tree with the help of a security guard. Whoever that man was, I thank you for saving her life. She is now in hospital, waiting for minor surgery on her leg. I'm so glad that she survived, I can't wait to get her back. Peter Lillvik, Sanya, China

My son informs me from Matara, Sri Lanka, that there was a great hissing sound from the sea around 10 a.m. and the sea seemed to be caving in. Within seconds, a great wave came rushing in to the shore, destroying everything that was lying in the way, and sweeping away everybody who was in the way. Yusry Al Ayad, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

My brother works in a hotel on a beach. When the tsunami hit, he was near the swimming pool when he saw a 40-foot wave coming towards him. He pulled four kids out of the pool and ran towards the hotel. Within 10 seconds a strong wave smacked his back. He was able to get to safety but a woman died in his arms as he was trying to rescue her. Asheerwadh, Colombo, Sri Lanka

I witnessed the most horrible scene in my life: people running for their lives, dead bodies on the road, mothers crying. I've never seen anything like this in my life. Entire fishing villages have been wiped out, huge cars floating. The bodies of children no older than seven are lying on the beach. Abhishek, Chennai, India

I am on an island near Krabi in Thailand, searching for friends who were on Langkawi Island in Malaysia. Two tsunamis hit here yesterday morning. The first was small -- rumored to be five meters. I saw it coming and watched as it crashed over the sea wall. When the second, larger tsunami (10-15 meters) was spotted, we all ran up to higher ground. Most of the boats here were destroyed so the rescue effort is still continuing. Rebecca Ebels, Nagasaki, Japan

Two friends and I decided to go for a Sunday buffet at a hotel on the coastal area. As we arrived a security guard warned us about a small tidal wave approaching, which we thought was a joke at first. But it was no joke. I have never seen anything like this in my life. We ran towards the hotel. I could see the water coming behind, chasing me. It hit us like a speeding train. We escaped to the second level of the hotel. All I could see was flooded water everywhere. Tuan, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Our Sri Lankan worker reported to work this morning looking distraught. When asked if his family back in Sri Lanka were OK, holding back his tears, he answered that two members of his family, including a nine-year-old boy, are missing, their home swept away. His mother and sister are now sheltered in a mosque. We join him in praying for the safety of his missing relatives and other missing people as well. Larry, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

I live in a beachfront apartment. At about 9 a.m. I was woken up by the tremors as my bed, lights and aquarium were all shaking. Then at around 1.30 p.m., the waves started coming in. It just came without any warning and hit cars parked at the roadside. Eric Fong, Penang, Malaysia

I live close to the beach and yesterday at about 8 a.m. the whole area was shaking and all I could hear was screaming. Then everyone vanished in a second when out of nowhere a wave appeared. Ranil Ariyarathna, Colombo, Sri Lanka

At about 11.30 a.m. we felt a strange phenomenon as water rose and fell. Within seconds, the capital of Victoria was flooded. Debra, Victoria, Seychelles

My uncle amazingly survived the tidal wave during his usual morning walk. He just grabbed a lamppost and he found himself a flow of sea water up to his waist pushing him with maximum pressure. Then the water sucked back into the sea and when it went back he was able to see the sand. At this time he left the lamppost and ran towards the town. Hariharan, Pondicherry, India

People here seem bewildered by the enormity of what has happened to their country. Everywhere you go, small crowds are huddled around radios and TV sets silently absorbing the news, blank faced, as if unable to comprehend what they are seeing and hearing. The devastation might be limited to coastal areas but the sense of shock and loss is universal. It is a tragedy that has united Sri Lanka both in grief and also in determination to do everything possible to help those who have and are suffering. In Hindu and Buddhist temples, mosques and churches, prayers are being offered for the dead and injured. Across the land, collections are being taken for those who have lost everything, vans with PA systems driving around calling on people to give what they can. Even in the poorest and most remote areas, people flock to the roadside to hand over money, clothes, water bottles or bags of rice and lentils. There is a popular buddhist saying in sri lanka, life is no more than a dew drop balancing on the end of a blade of grass. The events of December 26 have shown just how precarious that balance can be. Paul Sussman, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Everyone in my office is in complete shock. The roads in Colombo are eerily quiet and most people are just glued to the news. No one had any warning of what was about to occur. Most of my friends had gone down south for a holiday. Many people had horror stories of how they cheated death by clinging on to trees or hiding within temples. How we are to recover from this is just beyond me right now. Anisha, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The quake shook my house at 7.58 a.m. I've never experienced such a feeling. I had to hold on to a timber post otherwise I would have fallen. Soe Tun, Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Burma)

I was on my way to Kalutara at about 11.30 a.m. Suddenly, all the houses on the coastal line were wrecked and smashed on to the road. Everyone was running everywhere and some people were washed away. We couldn't control our car but managed to get in to a small street. Everything happened in less than a minute. We were so lucky. Tharanga, Colombo, Sri Lanka

We live in downtown Bangkok and felt the quake at about 8 a.m. Our building swayed and we were quickly evacuated. It took many hours before we found out there was an actual quake. Our initial response was that the building had a structural fault and it was coming down. Our prayers go out to all victims, their families and recovery units. E.E. Cordera, Bangkok, Thailand

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