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Teen tells of losing 5 of family

'Come and look at the cool waves'


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Christian Olsson lost his mother, father, grandmother, cousin and aunt in the tsunami.
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Swedes say their government didn't move fast enough after the disaster.
Sweden is the hardest hit country outside southern Asia.
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden (CNN) -- Mesmerized by giant waves approaching his family's Thai beach resort, Christian Olsson's father called out to his son to come and take a look.

Christian, 17, and his Swedish family had traveled to Khao Lak tourist resort to escape the bitter Scandinavian winter.

They had joined several tourists standing on the beach on December 26, watching the unusual phenomenon that appeared to be miles out to sea.

"My dad knocked on the door and said, 'Come and look at the cool waves,'" Christian recalls.

He says that when he arrived at the beach, everyone was standing there with their cameras and video cameras, filming the waves and not realizing what was to follow.

But by the time the waves were just 200 meters from the beach and the tourists realized the water was racing towards them at a ferocious speed, it was too late.

Seconds later Christian lost five of his family members -- his mother, father, grandmother, cousin and aunt.

Just three -- Christian, his cousin and uncle -- of his party of eight have returned home to Nynashamn, an hour south of Stockholm.

"When the wave hit me, I got smashed into a wall with my head. I floated. I got up on a roof. I lay there for an hour. Then my thoughts just, I guess it was then (that I realized I was alone)," he says.

Fifty-two Swedes have been confirmed dead but 702 are listed as missing and 1,201 remain unaccounted for.

Thailand, particularly the resort of Phuket, is a popular destination for Swedish holiday makers to escape the ice and snow of their homeland. More than 20,000 Swedes were in the region when the disaster struck.

Only 9 million people live in Sweden, and with so many nationals dead and missing, many Swedes reportedly know someone who is missing.

Social worker Lotta Polfeldt, who works for Save the Children in Sweden, said the effect would stay with the tsunami victims, particularly the children, for a long time.

"We've got children who will grow up without one or both parents, without siblings perhaps. We know that grief or bereavement for children will affect them (for) the rest of their lives. Not necessary all in negative ways. It will change them as people," she says.

For now, Christian Olsson faces an uncertain future, but he has not yet given up hope that some of his missing family members may be alive.

He misses them a lot, he says.

"We were eight people down there, so three of us are home."

He is staying with his half-brother and his family, an hour away from his home, school and friends but is unsure whether he will stay there or live with friends in his hometown.

He says his family members are listed in Thailand and Sweden as missing, but officials have said it could take months to recover bodies from underbrush, analyze dental records and perform the other tests needed to fully identify the victims.

"I think they are still alive. I don't know, really. The first days I was in Sweden, I thought of course they are alive, everybody else was coming home, so why shouldn't they come home?" he says.

"They (officials) know they are missing. I think they are looking for them. I don't know."

CNN's Robyn Curnow contributed to this report


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