Action star Jet Li recounts the close shave he had

Associated Press

Hong Kong, January 8:

Hong Kong action star Jet Li has raced to save the day on screen. But on December 26, he found himself running for his life with his two daughters in his arms when the tsunami crashed into the Maldives resort where they were vacationing.

The star of “Lethal Weapon 4” and “Hero” told the audience at a tsunami charity concert in Hong Kong yesterday that he was strolling on the beach with his daughters and their maid when the giant waves started rolling toward the shore.

“The waves came really quickly and formed swirls. I carried my daughters and pulled my maid and ran. I’d only walked three steps when I realized that the water had already come up to my waist,” Li said on stage.

“When I looked back, everything I saw minutes ago was gone. Everything was surrounded by the ocean. The houses collapsed. I continued to run but the water was already up to my mouth,” he said. At that moment, Li said he was faced with the most difficult decision in his life. “I thought if the water rose another foot, what should I do? I was carrying my daughters and pulling my maid, do I let go or persist? I chose to go forward,” he said.

Li said they eventually fought their way through the swirling water back to their hotel, only to be told that a second round of even bigger waves would be hitting the building soon.

Hotel guests donned life jackets and held hands as they awaited for the tsunami to hit.

“We looked at each other. Nobody would ask you where you came from. We just prepared for the waves to arrive,” Li said.

The killer waves left at least 82 people in the Maldives dead and wrecked resorts on the tourism-dependent island chain. The action star made an impassioned plea for aid donations.

Li, who has already given $128,200 for tsunami relief, also announced that he would set up a charity fund and urged people to give $0.12 each a month to keep it running.

“I really hope that this show of love for humanity will not be brief like a 100-meter race, but will persist like a marathon. I hope this will pass on for generations to come,” he said.

Li said the life-or-death experience gave him courage to fulfill his wishes.