The Sun - UK; 01-02-2005,
PHUKET, Thailand - Quick-thinking 10-year-old Tilly Smith is being hailed as a hero after saving her parents and dozens of fellow vacationers from the deadly tsunami - thanks to a school geography lesson.
Tilly warned the doubting adults at a resort that a massive tidal wave was about to strike - just minutes before the deadly tide rushed in and turned the resort into rubble.
Tilly's family, from Surrey, England, was enjoying a day at Maikhao Beach last Sunday when the sea rushed out and began to bubble.
The adults were curious, but Tilly froze in horror. "Mummy, we must get off the beach now!" she told her mother."I think there's going to be a tsunami."
The adults didn't understand until Tilly added the magic words: "A tidal wave."
Her warning spread like wildfire. Within seconds, the beach was deserted - and it turned out to be one of the only places along the shores of Phuket where no one was killed or seriously injured.
Last night, Tilly was being hailed as a savior.
"I think it's phenomenal that Tilly's parents and the others on the beach are alive because she studied hard at school," said Craig Smith , the American manager of the JW Marriott Hotel where Tilly's family was staying.
He said a tsunami is not like you see in the movies, where a huge wave wells up on the horizon and can be seen for miles off shore. It is more like a sudden surge of water," he said. "There's very little warning. She's a hero."
Tilly shrugged off the attention and modestly said, "Last term, my geography teacher, Mr. Kearney, taught us about earthquakes and how they can cause tsunamis. "I was on the beach, and the water started to go funny. I recognized what was happening and had a feeling there was going to be a tsunami."
"When the water went back, I was like most people on the beach. I wanted to walk down and look at what was going on," she recalled. "It was only when Tilly explained what she thought was going to happen that I had second thoughts.
"We ran off the beach as fast as we could and went to the first floor of the hotel where it would be safe. Minutes later the water surged right over the beach and demolished everything in its path.
"It was terrifying to watch but I'm very proud of her."