Surrey mother dies after saving daughter

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The Independent Online

A mother who travelled to Sri Lanka to open an orphanage died in the tsunami after saving her daughter's life.

June Abeyratne, 48, from Kingswood, Surrey, had travelled to the island's south coast with her Sri Lankan husband Viraj, 42, and their 11-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

Mrs Abeyratne stayed in their hotel with Alexandra while her husband went sightseeing. Mother and daughter were in their ground-floor villa when the tsunami struck. She saved Alexandra by pushing her out the window, but was unable to escape herself as the window was too small.

Her husband survived. He returned to the hotel complex to find it submerged in water. Mr Abeyratne said: "As I got closer I saw the hotel was completely submerged and there were thousands of gallons of water pouring back towards the sea. I swam across the river to the hotel and found my daughter sheltering in a tree. She had hit her head but survived. She was so brave, my wife. She selflessly ensured her daughter had a chance of survival, even though she herself could not escape."

He found his wife's body three day's later, hundreds of metres from the hotel.

The official death toll for Britons reached 41 yesterday, and the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said that almost 200 Britons, including about 25 children, may have been killed.

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