Report: Girl thought to be swept away during tsunami found alive
An aerial photo from January 2005 shows destroyed houses in Meluaboh, in West Aceh, Indonesia.
December 22nd, 2011
11:28 AM ET

Report: Girl thought to be swept away during tsunami found alive

An 8-year-old girl who was swept away from her mother's arms during the 2004 tsunami that hit Indonesia has been found alive and reunited with her parents, according to the Indonesian state news agency Antara.

The girl, who was identified by state news only as Wati, now 15, was reportedly discovered nearly seven years after the tsunami devastated the coastlines of Asia.

An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of between 9.1 to 9.3 strikes the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, and triggered a deadly tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Wati was in the village of Ujong Baroh when flood waters came crashing in.

"Her mother, Yusniar, was trying to take her and her two siblings to a safe place, but somehow she lost her grip on her mother's arm and was carried away by the rushing waters, leaving her mother powerless to help her," the state news agency said. "Yusniar was able to save her two other children, but she and the rest of the family eventually had to resign themselves to the notion that Wati was lost as she never returned nor had anybody in the neighborhood seen her again dead or alive."

The now teenage Wati was spotted in a coffee shop near her home in West Aceh, Indonesia.

She said that "she had come [there] by bus from Banda Aceh and was trying to find her way back home but did not know how. She also could not remember any of her parents' or relatives' names except Ibrahim," according to Antara.

She was sitting in silence in the coffee shop, assumed to be a beggar, the news agency reported.

Later that day, Wati and someone she met showed up at a man's house.

His name? Ibrahim.

"After listening to the acquaintances account, Ibrahim immediately sensed the girl could be his long-lost grandchild and, after a closer look at the dark-skinned girl, was indeed convinced she was Wati who went missing in the tsunami seven years ago," the news agency reported.

Ibrahim called her parents to immediately come meet her, according to the agency, and the parents confirmed it was their daughter because of a small mole and scar that she had as a child.

Antara said they were told no other details about what happened to the girl when she was swept away other than she had been in several areas throughout Indonesia's Aceh province after the tsunami.

soundoff (431 Responses)
  1. Su Lynn

    WOW! I am by nature a cynic, so a DNA test would be reassuring, especially at a time of year that is so family story oriented. However, it would be really very cool if it is true.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy Crack Corn

      She was 8 at the time. It clearly says so in the first sentence.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      DNA testing is indeed an ideal way of verifying kinship, but who can afford such a procedure in that country, especially coming from a "Small Village"

      December 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • OhGoodGrief

      So she can collect her multi-million dollar inheritance?

      December 22, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sheila

    Sorry, but she was 11 years old at the time, no one is mentioning any physical harm, and she can't remember how to go home or who here parents are? Something is fishy.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniferCA

      She probably had a head injury and suffered amnesia. And after 7 years she would show no outward signs of any injury. Not an unlikely scenario at all, atually.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You might want to re-read the first few words of the article...

      December 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      She was 8 years old. First sentence.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • UFC iTard

      There isn't even an 11 anywhere in the article
      Someone needs to work on their reading comprehension

      December 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • AW

      Umm, she was 8 years old then, equivalent to a second grader in the US. She went through a traumatic event, and yes, we haven't heard all the details of what happened over the past 7 years. So let's hold off on judgement until more information is revealed. I hope this will have a happy ending.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jpip

      @sheila: your reading comprehension skills (and possibly your math skills) are fishy. It states that she was 8 years old and is now 15. Even if you missed the "8 years old" part, 15 minus 7 does not equal 11.
      Beyond that, try being swept away in a tsunami some time and see if it isn't a traumatic experience. It's possible that there was some memory loss, it's also possible (probable) that there are further details to the story than what you're reading here.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrea M

      Trauma is pretty good at erasing memories and as far as I can tell, being swept away from your parents in a Tsunami is pretty traumatic. It's pretty easy to lose memories or just stop making any for a while when something like that happens. Trust me, I'm missing huge chunks of my childhood from it. Being lost in a tsunami would do the trick quite well.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JusDav

      Sheila, you need to read... THEN comprehend... then you may write your thoughts
      The little girl was eight yrs old when she was "swept from her mothers arms in a terrible tsunami".
      What about that situation would you NOT consider extremely traumatic? at EIGHT yrs old.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • sealteam deploy

      step away from the pipe it is clogging your brain

      December 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • kablooie

      She was 8 years old when it happened, and now it is 7 years later. No doubt, the tsunami changed the landscape when it washed through the village. Actually, I am surprised that the village is still there.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO

      Do we need anyone else to throw Sheila under the bus? I think she got the message already.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Satros

      She was 8 when she was swept away, and is 15 now. Hard to believe, but the tsunami was nearly seven years ago. For such a hugely traumatic event to cause her to forget things, that's a pretty plausible thing in my mind. And if her parents could identify her because of a mole and a scar, pretty distinct markings, I like to think it's their daughter.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug

      It indicated in the first line she was 8 at the time of the disaster and now is 15. I am pretty sure that after 7 years MOST of us would find it difficult to find our way back home if everything were washed away by a tsunami. Think about it, most everything, ever landmark was wiped away, and over these 7 years – was new growth, new buildings – new everything.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • 8

      She was 8, something is fishy about you're reading comprehension skills.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Sheila, you have probably never been to a third world country. These folks are so poor and travel very very little. She was probably swept out miles away from home... How in the world would you expect this poor child to find her way back to a village that is no longer there?!!? I'm sure there's a lot more people who were "lost" that might even still be alive. There's nothing fishy about something so traumatic that this young girl had to endure that day and since.... I hope you aren't always so negative about life, Sheila.

      December 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • dee2118

      Well, everyone left a reply to Sheila, I was going to but it's overkill.
      I am sure that if her grandfather recognized her and her parents did, and found the markings on her that it has to be true. I'm also sure that in 7 years their village has been re-built or they would not be there.
      It's a wonderful thing!!

      December 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TODAY

    If this is really their child...nothing to say but...God works in mysterious ways

    December 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tired2care

      You mean Greyhound works in mysterious ways. She took the bus there.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Why would God create this tsunami, sweep this poor girl away and keep her separated from her family for 7 years? Sounds to me like God works in sadistic ways.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • CynicLgrrl

      Wondering where 'He' was for the other 200,000 people. Yeah..that's pretty mysterious.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Praise God! He devestated this part of the world just so you can get this wonderful story.

      December 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kate

    Sheila, it's been 7 years and there's obviously a lot of missing information. Amnesia is a terrible thing, it's perfectly possible that she sustained hard blows to her head and couldn't remember anything other than one name or very little information. Physical harm caused 7 years ago, such as broken legs, arms etc would, of course, have mended by now.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO

      Not to mention psychological trauma. I would certainly not want to find myself, a child alone, in a third world country, post disaster. Whoever she is, she's tougher than I am.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO

    Great story. It has heartbreak and joy. I am usually a skeptic too, but I'm assuming it is true, probably because I want it to be true. I hope she sells this story and makes a lot of money. It would make a great book and movie.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. What was That?????


    December 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. What?!

    Something's fishy allright Sheila, your comprehension.
    First sentance, read it!

    December 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nosnobunny

    She has memory loss. That was reported in the article. It's very possible that she had a brain injury.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. What was That?????

    she could have draim bamage........ LMAO

    December 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • OhGoodGrief


      December 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Livelystone

    What a wonderful story........ made my day


    December 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Harry Merkin

    All of the above comments are made by simpletons,,,one of you can't do rithmitic ,,, one of you wants to see a DNA test???? what for???????????. My gosh,,,,,, she has her family back,,,,, REJOICE !!!!!!! iT IS CHRISTMAS !!!!!

    December 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • IgM

      * arithmetic

      December 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Linden

    I'm thinking of using this excuse to miss the next 7 years of work.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry Merkin

      What then,,,,,,,,,,,,??? come back in seven years ,,, to what,,,,,,,,,,? sre you insane?

      December 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rick

    Kewl story

    December 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Portland tony

    Too much going on in this world to give this article much thought. It's great if she is now happy and home. Otherwise it's great for other reasons!

    December 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |

    THE LORD IS AMAZING! All of you skeptics need to just put down your phones and find something else to do! I believe in miracles, and this story speaks volumes! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

    December 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Yes, praise God! 200,000 dead, I'm glad he saved one to make our day today.

      December 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13