Couple haunted by waves of shock

WHILE Christmas is usually a time of celebration and festivity, for tsunami survivor Lawrence Netto it has become a time of sombre reflection.

Mr Netto and his wife Phyllis, both 65, were travelling along India's Coast last year when the tsunami struck.

The couple were near a town called Nagapattinam when the massive wave ravaged India's east coast.

"Boxing Day will always be remembered as tsunami day for me,'' he said.

More than 6000 people were killed in the town on that day.

Wading through a sea of death, fighting horrendous currents and fearing for their safety are only a few of the experiences still haunting the Nettos.

The morning the tsunami struck, the two were with about six other people and had split up to eat breakfast.

They had just left the hotel, which was about 200 metres from the sea when the massive wave approached.

Mr Netto watched in terror as hundreds of people were picked up and swept away by the ocean.

The two eventually were reunited and found refuge above an old schoolhouse where the view of a town in ruin became overwhelming.

"It was very emotional,'' he said as he recalled a dead woman found in tree.

"A wave pushed her up the tree and left her there.''

Looking back on these atrocities, Mrs Netto said it was her faith that got her through the ordeal.

It is also what gives her strength each day.

But she is still finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit.

"Normally I would be shopping and buying presents and things like that,'' she said.

"But this year things are taking so much longer because I am thinking about last year.''

Despite their struggle they both said the Rockhampton community has been so supportive of their ordeal.

"Complete strangers have called up to express their sympathy,'' he said.

"Talking about it has really helped me.

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