Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who was evacuated from his seaside Sri Lankan holiday hotel when the tsunami hit, said the resulting devastation reminded him of Second World War bombing.
Kohl, 74, recounted what he saw before a Sri Lankan air force helicopter lifted him and his entourage out of one of the areas worst hit by the raging waves.
“On Sunday morning at about 9am I stood on the balcony and saw that the sea was changing. It sounded very different,” Kohl wrote in Germany’s Bild newspaper. “Then a huge wave rose up. This wave developed enormous power.”
“People were running around screaming. The wave ripped everything away. Wooden huts and buildings that were not solidly built were just washed away.”
Kohl said he was on the third floor of a hotel outside Galle, Sri Lanka’s second-biggest city, when the waters struck.
“Only when we saw that the entire lower and second floors of our hotel were flooded did we realize the full extent of the catastrophe,” he said. “It brought back images of the war, which I lived through as a boy. It looked like after a heavy bombardment.”
Kohl said he would stay in Sri Lanka for the time being to see whether he could help with relief efforts.