The Squire Family

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The Squire family—father Phillip, mother Louise, and kids Emma, Laura and Will—have been to Sri Lanka many times, and this was their second trip to Arugam Bay.

When the tsunami hit, they were separated within seconds. Each family member barely survived. They were in the hotel restaurant when the tsunami hit. "I opened the door [to the restaurant bathroom] and that's when the first surge of water came into the bathroom and just raised very quickly until I was flat against the ceiling," Emma says. "As soon as I got out of the bathroom, I was slammed into a palm tree. I felt myself losing consciousness and the blackness covering my eyes. I was positive I was going to die. There were bodies floating with me that would bang into my body."

Each member of the family struggled to survive, while fearing the others were dead. Phillip even witnessed a building collapse on his wife, Louise. "I thought there's no way that my poor wife would be able to survive the strength of that wave," he says. "I decided that I would go into the wave and see if I could find her. I felt that if she had got a concussion of some sort, that I would be able to find her and save her."