Girl saved by her friend the elephant Ningnong
Amber Mason, from Milton Keynes, formed a friendship with the elephant during her holiday on the Thai island of Phuket and was enjoying a ride when the tidal wave struck. Ningnong, the elephant, turned from the sea as the wave rushed towards the shore and ran to safety. As the water engulfed the beach resort the elephant stood firm against the wave until it receded.
Amber, who was in Thailand with her mother Samantha and stepfather Eddie Mason, was riding the elephant as Yong, the animal's Thai owner, collected fish on Boxing Day. She said: "On the day of the big wave I had left mum having breakfast as usual and dashed out to see Ningnong. I climbed on to him and we started walking down the beach.
"The sea was right out and Yong was walking in front and picking up stranded fish from the beach and putting them in a bag for his lunch. It was as though he (Ningnong) sensed I was in danger, so he turned away from the incoming sea and ran for both our lives. "Then he stood really still and braced himself against the water until my mum came to find me. I love Ningnong so I wasn't scared for one minute. He saved my life." Mrs Mason and her husband were not on the beach when the tsunami struck, but were alerted to the danger by screams. Mrs Mason said: "Amber had spent the whole holiday with Ningnong. As soon as I got outside I was screaming at people 'Where's the elephant?' "Someone said he was dead which threw me into a panic as I knew Amber had been sitting on his back. I tried to sprint along the beach but the water was above my knees so I couldn't. "Then I saw Ningnong in the distance at the other end of the beach with Amber on his back. She started waving at me. I was almost hysterical with relief. "We ran to her and grabbed her. We'd just made it back to our first floor room when, less than 10 minutes later, the next wave came and swept six ground floor rooms away." Further tales of remarkable survivals continue to emerge from south-east Asia in the aftermath of the disaster.