Jet Li Survives Tsunami
Jet Li just got through playing Hero on the big screen. Now, he’s one for real.
The international action star managed to save his daughter–and himself–from the deadly tsunami that wreaked havoc on southern Asia and parts of Africa over the weekend, leaving more than 52,000 dead.
Li and his daughter were vacationing in a resort in the Maldives when the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Sumatra early Sunday. The temblor generated waves up to 40 feet high which swamped coastal areas in nearly a dozen countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and as far away as Somalia and Tanzania.
According to Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper, which quoted an unnamed friend of Li’s, the martial artist and his daughter were in their hotel lobby when a wall of water surged into the building. Li was dinged by a piece of floating furniture and sustained an foot injury, according to the Ming Pao Daily News, but managed to scoop up his daughter and escape relatively unharmed. After reaching higher ground, he was able to call his agent and let him know they were all right.
A rep for Li confirmed to E! on Monday that the actor was vacationing in the Maldives and had managed to avoid injury.
The Maldives are a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean about eight feet above sea level. The tidal waves, which were traveling at 500 miles per hour, engulfed the islands–some almost entirely–sweeping away whole towns and villages before finally receding.
Nearly 50 deaths have been reported in the Maldives, as of Tuesday, but as with most of the places ravaged by the tsunamis, the casualty numbers are expected to rise.
Li, one of Hong Kong’s premiere action exports, played the villain in Lethal Weapon 4 before landing his first major American starring role in Romeo Must Die; his other Hollywood credits include Cradle 2 the Grave, Kiss of the Dragon and The One.
Li wasn’t the only celeb caught up in the tsunami tragedy.
Czech supermodel and 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue covergirl Petra Nemcova was on holiday across the Indian Ocean in Phuket, Thailand, with her British photographer boyfriend, Simon Atlee, when the raging surf tore through their beachfront bungalow at the resort of Kaho Lak.
According to the New York Daily News, Nemcova was able to keep her head above water and grab a palm tree. She clung to the tree for eight hours while the water swept other victims out to sea. At sunset, the 25-year-old beauty was eventually discovered by rescuers and hospitalized for a broken pelvis and internal injuries.
Atlee, however, is still missing.
“This huge wave just pulled us out of the house,” Nemcova recounted the Daily News from her hospital bed. “It was so powerful I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t get out of it. People were screaming, and kids were screaming all over the place, screaming, ‘Help, help.’ And after a few minutes, you didn’t hear the kids anymore.”
She was transported via stretcher to a local hospital and then airlifted to an inland hospital.
“I was so broken, I couldn’t walk,” Nemcova said. “There were so many people with horrible injuries, with blood everywhere. It was like a war movie.”
The killer waves also beseiged Nate Berkus, a celebrity interior decorator and frequent guest of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Berkus and his companion, Fernando Bengoechea, were asleep in their hotel in Sri Lanka when the tsunamis hit.
The two got hold of a telephone pole, before another strong wave pulled them off. Berkus, 33, managed to climb up onto a rooftop, but the fate of his friend remains unclear. After reaching safety on Sunday, Berkus managed to call his family and alert them that he was alive.
“I’m sitting here with nothing–no passport, no money, no anything, in shorts that somebody gave me,” he told CNN. “The bottom line is, we desperately need help here.”
Meanwhile, from the film world, Oscar-winning British director Richard Attenborough is mourning the death of his 14-year-old granddaughter, Lucy, who was killed when the waves crashed into Phuket. Attenborough’s daughter Jane and Jane’s mother-in-law, Jane Holland, remained unaccounted for, according to a statement from family friend Diana Hawkins.
Another granddaughter, 17-year-old Alice, survived the tsunami along with her father, Michael, and her brother Sam. Alice was being treated at a local hospital. The Attenboroughs were staying at the Thai beach on a two-week holiday.
So far, more than 80 Westerners have been confirmed dead in the catastrophe, with many still missing.
Hoping to fend off a deepening crisis, aid workers are rushing to contain the outbreak of waterborne diseases and restore basic sanitation and running water to the tsunami-effected areas.
Jet Li Survives Tsunami