Originally created 12/29/04

Some celebrities among victims of tsunami disaster



BANGKOK, Thailand - A German statesman, a Czech supermodel and a Swedish Olympic ski champion were among the vacationers whose search for peace and sun in tropical southern Asia was shattered by the tsunamis that spared neither rich nor poor.

Petra Nemcova - who appeared on the cover of 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue - was carried away with her boyfriend, the fashion photographer Simon Atlee, after a huge wave plowed into southern Thailand on Sunday.

Nemcova's New York spokesman, Rob Shuter, said the model and her boyfriend had been vacationing in the resort of Phuket when waves overwhelmed their beach hut.

Nemcova, 25, clung to a tree for eight hours as the water swirled around her. She was recovering in a Thai hospital from broken bones, possibly including a broken pelvis, and unspecified internal injuries.

Atlee, 33, was swallowed by the raging waters and was still missing Tuesday.

"I've spoken to Petra several times and she's in pretty bad shape," Shuter said. "She's on pain medication. She probably doesn't realize yet the magnitude of the disaster."

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was on holiday in Sri Lanka's pristine south - one of the areas most devastated by tsunamis.

Kohl and his entourage were evacuated Tuesday from a hotel by the Sri Lankan air force.

"The helicopter went and we managed to bring him back with six others," Commander Air Marshal Donald Perera told The Associated Press.

Swedish skiing great Ingemar Stenmark was sunbathing in Thailand when he saw an immense wave roaring to shore. He ran for his life.

Stenmark - who won two gold medals at the 1980 Olympics and 86 World Cup races - was with friends in Khok Kloi, about 30 miles from Phuket.

"The water from the first wave disappeared, but then it came back with terrifying speed," Stenmark told Swedish media. He and his girlfriend were not injured.

Another athlete wasn't so lucky. Troy Broadbridge, an Australian Rules rugby player, was on his honeymoon in Phuket when he and his bride were swamped as they strolled along a beach. Trisha Broadbridge was safe, but he was still missing Tuesday.

Several Italian soccer players - including AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi, Milan captain Paolo Maldini, and Juventus defender Gianluca Zambrotta - were caught in the maelstrom in the Maldives but were unhurt.

Thailand's royal family also were among the grieving. The Thai-American grandson of King Bhumipol Adulyadej, Poom Jensen, 21, was reportedly jet skiing when the tidal wave struck Phuket. His body was found later.

Hollywood actor-director Richard Attenborough's family also suffered tragedy. His granddaughter, Lucy, 14, perished and his daughter, Jane, and her mother-in-law are missing in Phuket. Another granddaughter, Alice, 17, was being treated in a hospital.

Attenborough's directorial credits include "Cry Freedom," "Chaplin" and the Oscar-winning "Gandhi." He has appeared in scores of films including "The Great Escape," "Elizabeth" and "Jurassic Park."

On Thailand's Phi Phi island, where "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed, 200 bungalows at two resorts were swept out to sea, and resort officials said many foreign tourists were among the missing.

Designer Nate Berkus, a regular contributor on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," was carried away with a friend by a tsunami after it ripped off the roof of their hut in Sri Lanka.

They briefly clung to a telephone poll, but a second wave ripped them away. Berkus climbed to safety on the roof of a submerged home - but his friend disappeared into the raging sea.