There was one survivor of the tsunami catastrophe that hit Thailand who spent 11 days doing his best to avoid rescue and in the end did not even say thank you.

The ungrateful escapee was a ten-year old humpbacked dolphin, flung by the great wall of water into an artificial fresh-water lake in the province of Phangnga, north of the exclusive and expensive tourist haven of Phuket in the extreme south of Thailand.

For 11 days, 100 soldiers and marine-biologists toiled to spring the reluctant dolphin from its watery prison, but in a prolonged game of hide-and-seek it craftily gave their nets the slip.

Finally, eight divers went down to clear the bottom of the lake of debris that might otherwise damage two massive nets that were laid beneath the two-metre long hulk of the suspicious detainee.

The fishermen used the nets to coax the dolphin from beneath its belly towards a corner of the lake where a third net was speedily dropped on it and it was captured at last. Hauled to the surface, it was manhandled by the soldiers into the back of a lorry on a hammock-like stretcher which then dashed off with its precious load to the nearest beach 500 yards away.

There it began swimming lustily towards the open sea. "It didnt even turn to wave us goodbye, said the crestfallen head of the giant rescue operations.

Phangnga province was the hardest hit of all Thailand. In one beach resort alone, there were 4,131 confirmed dead, with 2,313 of them foreigners, according to the Thai interior ministry.

In Phuket itself, frequented by Scandinavians, Britons and Italians, 105 foreigners lost their lives out of a local total of 262.

Latest figures show the dead in Thailand at 5,246, excluding 4,499 missing of whom 1,100 were allegedly foreigners, most of them Scandinavians.