Schoolgirl 'angel' returns with poem


THAILAND: British schoolgirl Tilly Smith, dubbed the "Angel of the Beach" for saving scores of lives with her tsunami warning, returned yesterday to commemorate the anniversary with a poem.

"It wasn't devastation or death that won the day/It was humanity that triumphed/The shining victory of generosity, courage and love."

The 11-year-old knew what was happening when she saw the sea draw back from the Khao Lak beach in southern Thailand because she had learned about tsunamis in school. Her adamant warning of looming danger is credited with saving 100 lives.

Another part of the poem was read by Patiwat Komkla (10), who survived two days at sea after the tsunami swept him away.

Several thousand Thais, foreign survivors and relatives of some of the 5,395 people known to have been killed by the giant waves, listened after an interfaith service led by Buddhist monks and Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh priests.

Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, referring to the outpouring of help after the disaster, said he learnt from the tsunami "the fact that much beauty lies in the heart of mankind".

"Life must still go on as it always has on other evenings like this one," he said. "The only difference is that from this day on, we have been rejuvenated by a renewed faith in human kindness and a clearer perception of the value of human life."

Thai princess Ubolrat Ratchakanya, who lost her son Poom in the disaster, thanked foreign visitors for "your love and support and caring".