Nemcova hospitalized with hip, internal injuries

Updated: December 29, 2004, 5:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova, who appeared on the cover of the 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, was injured and her photographer boyfriend was missing after the pair were caught up in the Asian tsunami.

I can't find Simon. It was horrible. I'm very lucky, but I can't find Simon.
Petra Nemcova

"We know already that her injuries are not incurable and her condition is stable," Bozena Nemcova, the model's mother told the Czech news agency CTK.

Doctors had confirmed a broken pelvis, she said, adding that she had spoken briefly to her daughter by telephone. The Czech embassy in Bangkok told CTK that Nemcova was not yet able to be moved from her hospital bed in Bangkok.

Petra Nemcova managed to grab the top of a palm tree and wait eight hours to be airlifted to an inland hospital. She also suffered internal injuries.

Nemcova told the New York Daily News that she survived the tsunami, which ravaged a dozen countries and has killed more than 76,700 people, by clinging to a palm tree for eight hours -- despite a broken pelvis and internal injuries.

Her British photographer Simon Atlee is still missing. The two had been vacationing in the Thailand resort of Phuket when the waves swept over them Sunday, said Atlee's agent, Eve Stoner.

"I can't find Simon," the 25-year-old Nemcova told the Daily News. "It was horrible. I'm very lucky, but I can't find Simon."

According to the Daily News report, rescuers took Nemcova to a local hospital. She was eventually airlifted to a hospital in Hat Yai, 150 miles southeast of Phuket.

"I was so broken, I couldn't walk," Nemcova told the newspaper. "There were so many people with horrible injuries, with blood everywhere. It was like a war movie.

"There might be pieces of bone stuck to my organs."

The number killed in the mammoth earthquake that sent tsunami waves rolling across the Indian Ocean soared above 76,700 early Wednesday, with tens of thousands still missing. The international Red Cross warned that the toll could eventually surpass 100,000.

The race was on to try to prevent an outbreak of diseases and to curb food shortages among millions of homeless -- which the U.N. health agency said could kill as many as the waves and quake.

Stoner said British authorities had no information on Atlee's fate.

"We are just very hopeful," Stoner said. "As time goes on we are getting quite frantic and stressed about it. Our thoughts are really with Petra and Simon's family at the moment."

Nemcova has appeared in magazines including Sports Illustrated, Marie Claire and Vogue and has also modeled for Victoria's Secret.

Atlee, 33, is a well-known fashion photographer who recently shot the pictures for Nemcova's 2005 calendar.

Nemcova told the Daily News that a huge wave pulled her and Atlee from their bungalow in Phuket.

"It was so powerful I couldn't get up. I couldn't get out of it," Nemcova told the newspaper from her hospital bed in Thailand. "People and kids were screaming all over the place, 'Help, help.' And after a few minutes, you didn't hear the kids anymore."

One of the most dramatic illustrations of nature's force came to light Tuesday when reporters reached the scene of a Sri Lankan train carrying beachgoers that was swept into a marsh by a wall of water Sunday, killing at least 802. Eight rust-colored cars lay in deep pools of water in a ravaged palm grove, torn off wheels and baggage scattered among the twisted rails.

The first military teams reached the devastated fishing town of Meulaboh on Sumatra's coast and across the coast they found thousands of bodies, bringing Indonesia's toll to 45,268, with 1,240 reported missing, according to the Health Ministry's official count. That toll was likely to rise -- one official on Tuesday estimated that as many as 10,000 people were dead in Meulaboh alone.

Sri Lanka listed 22,400 people dead, India close to 7,000 -- with 8,000 missing and feared dead. Thailand put its toll at more than 1,600. A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.

Officials had not yet counted the dead in two zones that suffered the brunt of both the earthquake and the tsunami that followed: the west coast of Sumatra and India's remote Andaman and Nicobar archipelagos just north of Sumatra.

From East Africa to southern Asia, chances faded of finding more survivors of Sunday's massive, quake-driven walls of water. Tens of thousands of people were still missing. German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder said 1,000 Germans were unaccounted for.

"We have to fear that a number of Germans clearly in the three-digit numbers will be among the dead," Schroeder told reporters. Currently, 26 Germans have been confirmed dead.

"We have little hope, except for individual miracles," Chairman Jean-Marc Espalioux of the Accor hotel group said of the search for thousands of tourists and locals missing from beach resorts of southern Thailand -- including more than 2,000 Scandinavians.

In Sri Lanka, reports of measles and diarrhea were beginning to reach health authorities, causing concern of an epidemic, said Thilak Ranaviraj, the government's top official handling relief efforts.

In a field in Banda Aceh, the capital of Sumatra's Aceh province, bulldozers shoved more than 1,000 unidentified bodies into mass graves. The corpses had been picked off the city's streets as authorities rushed to get decaying bodies into the ground.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.