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Petra Nemcova

Petra Nemcova is known throughout the world as a stunning model that first captured the attention of many eyes as the cover girl in Sport’s Illustrated legendary swimsuit edition in 2003.  A highly sought-after model, Nemcova has also graced the pages of such established magazines like Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Madame Figaro.  

Born in 1981 in the Czech Republic in the town of Karvina, the 5’10” beauty was “discovered” by a modeling scout on the streets of the Czech Republic.  Since then, Nemcova has remained busy with numerous photo shoots, which includes modeling for companies like Max Factor, La Perla and Cartier.   

More recently, Nemcova has been in the spotlight again not for her modeling exploits, but rather for her harrowing experience during the recent tsunami that has devastated many regions of Southern Asia.  She told her amazing and tragic story to London’s Daily News from a hospital bed in Thailand. 

Petra Nemcova and her world-renowned fashion photographer boyfriend, Simon Atlee, were spending the December holidays in a beachfront bungalow at the Thai resort of Khao Lak when the catastrophe struck on Sunday morning.  The two were swept away "in seconds" through a broken window when the killer tsunami smashed into their Thai beach bungalow.  Nemcova reported that they were struck by two tsunamis.  When the second tsunami hit, it would be the last time that Nemcova would her boyfriend, as he was washed out into sea, and has since not been found.      

Nemcova recalled being trying to make it to their bungalow roof when the tsunami first hit.  Before she and Atlee could react, a wall of water shredded their wooden bungalow and sent them sprawling into a churning sea of debris that swallowed Atlee without a trace.  Floating wood carried along by the killer wave smashed into her pelvis breaking it.  The water receded and, despite her pain, she tried to climb to the roof again.  Just then, the second wave came crashing in.

As the second wave receded, the injured Petra was being swept out to see.  But as luck or fate would have it, she managed to save herself by grabbing the top of a palm tree.  In a commendable display of resilience and sheer determination, Petra Nemcova held onto the palm tree for eight hours, terrified of trying to swim away because of her broken pelvis and other serious internal injuries.  Finally, a man saw her and enlisted the help of five others.  They took her to a hospital on Phuket Island.  She was then transferred to a hospital in Hat Yai where she remains recovering from the nerve-wracking incident. 

Although Nemcova realizes how lucky she is in given a second lease on life, she is heartbroken over the loss of Atlee, although at the same time she refuses to abandon hope that her boyfriend is still alive.  Intensive search efforts are currently underway in trying to find Atlee by searching hospitals around the area.  The tsunami further serves as a crippling reminder of the undiscriminating nature of natural disasters.