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WAVE OF DEATH: I can think of nothing but my son; DAD TELLS OF ANGUISH FOR TSUNAMI MIKE, 23.

Byline: MICHAEL DOYLE

THE father of missing tsunami victim Michael Murphy broke his silence yesterday to reveal his family's heartache.

Distraught Michael Murphy Snr told how friends and relatives were "broken" by the St Stephen's Day disaster.

And he revealed he has thought of nothing but his son during three agonising weeks without word of the 23-year-old.

Visibly shaking, the father of five, said: "One of the only people still unaccounted for over there is my young lad. The only way they have of identifying people in Thailand is by DNA evidence but that takes about three weeks for the results to come through.

"We can do nothing to take our minds off it."

Michael phoned his mother Teresa from Khao Lak in West Thailand on Christmas Day but it was the last time she heard from her eldest child.

Family and friends of the keen hurler have now all but given up hope of seeing him alive again.

His parents Michael and Teresa were yesterday being comforted by relatives and friends after hundreds of locals packed into the parish's St Bridget's Church for a mass in Michael's honour on Tuesday night.

Family friend John O'Reilly described the Murphy's as "lovely people" and said all the five children were very polite.

He added: "Michael is a lovely lad. My mother is 93-years of age and anytime I met Michael he would ask me "how is your mother?" All the children were like that.

"It's been very hard on everybody in the town but the waiting is probably the hardest part. I always say live life to the fullest every day because you never know when something like this might happen."

Cousin Dinny Corrigan said: "He only rang his mother on Christmas Day. Everybody here fears the worst if he hasn't been in contact by now. At least if a body turned up it might give them a bit of closure."

Michael had been working in Australia since November 2003 but went to Thailand for a holiday because he had to leave the country temporarily to fulfil the conditions of a visa renewal.

He had been travelling in Thailand with a friend up to the day before the tidal wave struck when they decided to go in different directions.

Michael, a Nautical Science grdauate from the Maritime College in Cork, opted to go to Khao Lak, an area badly hit by the tsunami.

His brother Paul, 22, and his cousin Michael O'Donnell, who is based in London, returned from Thailand last week where they'd gone to try to find him but their efforts turned up nothing.

At Tuesday's church service in Blackwater, Bishop Eamon Walsh told a packed congregation that the "care, prayers, love and friendship of the community were with them in their sorrow".

He added: "The darkness of this tsunami in south east Asia has filled the Murphy family and the Blackwater community with deep anxiety for Michael."

CAPTION(S):

MISSING: Michael phoned home on Christmas day
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2005
Words:498
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