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Tourist recounts hotel horror

Many hotels in Phuket have been swamped by the tsunami.
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Eyewitnesses describe the devastation of the tsunami that hit across southern Asia.

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PHUKET, Thailand (CNN) -- Fredrik Bornesand and his girlfriend were swimming in the pool of the Kambala Beach Hotel in Phuket, Thailand, when he heard screaming.

"A guy came running from the beach shouting, 'Get away! Get away!" the 33-year-old vacationing Stockholm policeman told CNN Wednesday in a telephone interview from another hotel in Phuket.

"I did not understand the meaning, but we saw he was afraid. People started running, but didn't know why they were running. My first thought was it was a terrorist attack.

"We went into the hotel and went up one level then we saw masses of water coming in over the pool and into the hotel area. It was like a big wave coming."

Then, a second wave caused worse flooding, which his friend videotaped.

As the water rose, Bornesand said, he realized that some people in rooms below his might be in danger and he went down to help.

There, he found rooms filled with water, and an older couple two meters away who were holding on for dear life.

He said he tried to grab hold of them, but was unable to keep his grip.

"The ceiling and the concrete were crashing down ... I just had to rescue my own life."

Buffeted by furniture, Bornesand found himself pinned to a wall and heard windows shattering around him.

He made safely his way out of the hotel room and into the lobby, where the water level was near the roof.

Bornesand then left the building and ran outside, where he hung on to a tree, then climbed it.

"I sat there a few minutes until the water went down again and everything was calm."

He then returned to the hotel, where he found three people trying to help the older man -- who was unconscious -- from the water.

"He had a big bruise from glass."

They dragged him into the lobby and up one floor to safety.

At that point, Bornesand and his girlfriend hiked to higher ground, where they sat for several hours until it was safe to return.

He never did learn the fate of the older woman.

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