Toby Coulson holds the photos he took at Phi Phi as the tsunami hit on Boxing Day.
Toby Coulson holds the photos he took at Phi Phi as the tsunami hit on Boxing Day.

Roar? and wave came

By JANN BURMESTER

Twenty-year-old English backpacker Toby Coulson was just finishing breakfast at Thailand's popular Phi Phi Island on Boxing Day when he noticed lots of waves in the normally calm waters surrounding the island.

He and his girlfriend Holly Morrison, 19, also from England, had been in Thailand for a month and had arrived on Phi Phi on Christmas Eve.

"As I looked towards the beach I noticed a canoe and a long-tailed boat moving really fast towards shore and the water was pounding the rocks near the beach," Tony said.

"I knew something was wrong. I grabbed Holly and then we ran. The water was coming toward us and all I could hear was this roaring.

"Everyone around us was screaming and running.

"There were concrete telegraph poles that were being crushed by the force of the water."

Toby and Holly ran to higher ground - a view point on the island that they had found the day before.

It was about 20 metres above the beach and all around them were injured people.

Toby grabbed his camera and managed to take some photos before he and Holly returned to the beach to help the injured.

"We then heard a rumble again and another wave came towards us," Toby said.

"So we ran back up to the view point again. Everyone was freaking out."

Toby, Holly and the other survivors stayed on high ground until a helicopter arrived about 4pm with some food.

Then they spent the night at the view point before being rescued by a boat at 1pm the next day.

They were flown to Phuket and then on to Bangkok, Singapore and the pair arrived in Byron Bay last Wednesday.

Toby and Holly are now counting their blessings.

"We realise just how lucky we are. Phi Phi is destroyed, there are so many people dead or injured."


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