British woman recalls Thailand flood terror

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LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) A British woman recalled today the terror at surviving a flash flood in Thailand, in which her fiance and seven others drowned.

Helena Carroll, 21, told how she clung on for life for 16 hours after the cave she and her fiance, John Cullen, 24, were exploring in Southern Thailand was hit by a flash flood.

A freak wave had washed through the Nam Talu cave in Khao Sok national park leaving the pair alone in the caves.

Reports today said the dead also included a Swiss couple and their two teenage daughters, a 10-year-old German boy and two Thai guides.

Miss Carroll, who works for the industry training provider Empower, described how her fiance saved her when he grabbed her as she slipped and almost fell as they desperately climbed to escape rising waters.

They debated what they should do after sitting on the ledge for a while, before he decided to swim for help.

She was left clinging to the ledge after he was washed away in the torrent.

''I cannot believe I am the only survivor,'' Miss Carroll, of Solihull, Birmingham, told the Guardian. ''I can't believe my John is dead.

''One minute I was in what I thought was the most beautiful place in the world -- the next thing there is death all around me.'' She described her terror as they were caught up in the flash flood.

''I guess we had got halfway through the cave I heard this sudden roar,'' she said. ''I looked behind and saw this rush of water coming towards us. John and I started climbing.

''The first thing we saw was the tour guide and the German boy being dragged away, then the Swiss couple and their two lovely girls.

''As we climbed I lost my grip and slipped down but John grabbed me and pulled me up. We kept climbing higher and found a ledge.'' She said it had been a dream trip for the couple.

''We had to decide whether to put down the money for a house or go on holiday,'' she said.

''We decided to take a holiday and up until then it was a dream holiday in the most beautiful place I had ever been to.'' Carroll was due to return home to Britain tomorrow.

Reuters SKB GC1801

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