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. Dylan

    What a sweet story and right before christmas! I am sure it will make her parents, her friends, and her holiday a lot better! 🙂

    December 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linkfx

      you understand these people are most likely buddhist right?

      December 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Muslim

      December 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • calmanalysis

      These folks indeed have something to celebrate, but it probably won't be Christmas.

      December 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sasha

      Oh yes, I'm sure this is a Christmas miracle.

      December 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disowned

      Culturally retarded moron.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • nicetwomeetu

      @Linkfx and all the others...you have a fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity. It is possible to wish a non christian Merry Christmas just like my Muslim friends with me a happy Eid al Fitr. To me, God helped her, to her, Allah helped her. To you, she should be offended at people rejoicing that she was reunited with her family during a time they celebrate the birth of their Savior. I doubt she is but I can't speak for her. All of the people that have a vendetta against Christmas need to travel more and get a more diverse set of friends.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Nicetwomeetu, in the event you are unaware of it, God and Allah are the same Deity.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Moore

    Obama is the cause of so much misery in this country and around the world. He caused that earthquake and should be deporte back to his home country of Kenya, along with his drunken illegal alien uncle. And bababooey to you all.

    December 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lulu

      You are a crackpot.

      December 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • SeasideTV

      What in the world could the President have to do with this story? There isn't a human alive who can cause an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or any other natural event.

      December 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • frontgate

      this is undoubtedly a teenager, yes a crackpot also.
      Remember the brain of a teenager is not fully developed.

      December 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ohhh...ok

      Wasn't Bush the man when that happened?

      December 22, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I am pretty sure he was being sarcastic

      December 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • HRPuckinfutz

      Please do not feed the troll. Thank you.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • petz

      Sarcasm, teenager or crackpot, it all comes across as stupid just like any other troll. And, as typical with these dopes, it's got nothing to do with reality.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jg

      I change my mind I am not going down to your level.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bayousara

      Time to grow up, don't you think?

      December 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Lulu, Seaside, this is flame bait left by a troll. What Michael Moore wants most of all is attention and responses.

      It's best to report his post and then ignore it.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Canada Eh?

    This is the best story I have read this Christmas season (along with the people randomly paying off lawayays for others, but thats another story). This is awesome. God bless her and her family, and may they have a wonderful Christmas together!

    December 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Um, way to show your ignorance. Not Christian there buddy.

      December 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • lisbeth

      I AGREE WITH YOU!!!!!!!! and Happy holidays to You, canada Eh

      December 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fiftypence

    To all of you saying "wahat a wonderful Christmas present" you do realize that chances are they aren't Christian?

    December 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • wellthen

      Ohh....Christmas is a Christian holliday?

      December 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ferris

      "Fiftypence
      To all of you saying "wahat a wonderful Christmas present" you do realize that chances are they aren't Christian?"

      Hm. Jesus would welcome the story with joy and wonder. Jesus was also not a "Christian". He was a Jew.
      So major FAIL on your behalf. Merry Christmas.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • sefs

      Christmas is an international capitalist holiday sir.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SeasideTV

    While on its face, this is a heartwarming story, something doesn't sound right to me. Was this young girl unable to speak after she went missing? How could an 8-year-old child (that was her age when the tsunami hit) not remember her parents' or siblings' names? The only way I buy this story is if she suffered from amnesia, which I suppose is possible. If the story is true, however, I wish them all the best.

    December 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • di-ann

      Have you ever been in a Tsunami and swept from your mothers arms at 8? I thought not? The Country was a mess with no infrastructure. It's a third world country at best. I bet there are a lot
      more stories like this.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alice

      An eight-year-old, swept away by a horrific wave, traumatized beyond what we can imagine, no wonder she doesn't remember much. Try drinking seawater, nearly drowning, banging your head on the rocks, or whatever actually happened, and you might not remember your own name let alone your parents or where you live. And my guess is, given the devastation, disruption to infrastructure, and lack of "modern" communications, that there are many more like her who haven't yet found their way home. If you haven't been there, it would be very hard for you to appreciate the conditions these people faced even without a tsunami.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike collins

      I'm with seasideTV. Ok, so there was a natural disaster. Does that mean kids old enough to know basic information about their parents...such as their NAMES, and rough idea WHERE they live, etc suddenly become deaf mutes unable to help themselves? Even my 5 year old knows that much.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • howbizarre

      I'm with Seaside too. She remembers her town (supposedly) and her grandfather's common first name, but can't remember her parents' name of her siblings? Sounds fishy.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uhhhh

      di-ann wrote: "Have you ever been in a Tsunami and swept from your mothers arms at 8? I thought not? The Country was a mess with no infrastructure. It's a third world country at best. I bet there are a lot
      more stories like this."

      @di-ann: while your kind intention is nice, your condescension is a little off-putting. For some reason people love to cling to outdated cold-war era terms like "third world" when they don't really know what the term originally meant, and probably think everywhere outside the "west" is the third world. While Indonesia is not at the "developed" stage yet, it is still a developing one with a fast growing economy and is classified as a lower-middle-income country. It also happens to be the largest economy in Southeast Asia (much bigger than Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, etc. especially due to the sheer size of its population). They are by no means a third-world basket-case country like what the term implies (you're probably thinking of places like Somalia). Also, infrastructure means things like roads, highways, electricity, phones, etc. Just so you know, those things definitely exist in Indonesia (with 240 million people, Indonesia is one of the biggest cell/smart phone markets in the world...just ask Blackberry). And, even in this part of the relatively remote Aceh province (which is pretty much backwater compared to the more developed areas of Indonesia like the island of Java where their largest cities like Jakarta are located), infrastructure was pretty well developed even before the tsunami. Just look at the after-tsunami photos - what exactly would a tsunami destroy if there was no infrastructure? In addition, Indonesia is a huge country (almost as large as the continental US). The tsunami only touched its far western tip. 99% of the country was not affected at all (not an exact number, but just trying to make a point here). It's like foreigners assuming Hurricane Katrina destroyed the entire US. I'm not trying to sound like some pretentious politically correct d.o.u.c.h.e bag here...but it's not PC, it's just fact. I'm guessing you've never been to Indonesia, but even if you have and still think it's just some third-world hole, you have to admit what you wrote sounded really exaggerated?

      Anyway, my point is this (I know, finally! right?)...I'm guessing the girl went missing for years simply because of memory/trauma issues. That, combined with the sheer devastation that the Aceh province experienced...so many homeless people trying to put their lives back together, so many missing people, etc...she was just a needle in a haystack. She obviously was rescued by someone or some organization, but she never had the ability to put her memory and courage back together until she reached her teen years.

      December 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. johnny

    True these people are not Christian, but that's not so much the point. They have something to be thankful for. I will celebrate Christmas and their good story will be in my heart. Come Ramadan or Songkran, these people will have a nice present. Gotta love these people just trolling looking to criticize others little oversights. Oh crud, I just did it.

    December 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cm

    Yeah! Some GOOD news!

    December 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ma & pa

    That we hear of the found child at Christmas time is faith renewing. Good people help make miracles happen. Those who blame God for that disaster seem to be thinking from a false premise of what God is, based on a lot of teachings of mankind. May we put forth a thought on this? God made everything including this shifting dynamic of earthquakes which keep rebuilding mountains on this planet. He also made who can think to live where they are safer if the cautioning teaching words of the elders are not forgotten and discarded as myths by foolish 'leaders', who thereby endanger their people. IN THE TIME BEFORE there were those whose one life task was to stay on high ground and watch for the ocean going out and sound the alarm to the people below. One lifetime task they hoped they,d never need to do. After many generatios scoffers refused to watch because thousands of moons had passed without the ocean rushing in to swallow them. Only the wary and the elders escaped when the inevitable happened around the Pacific rim. Fast foreward to now time. The people didn't know to not live on the shore. Many didn't know to run for high ground when the ocean went far out. The elders knowledge of survival was lost because of scoffers and the innocent people were lost. We have minds to think to not live on top of and in the way of such dangers as big fault lines that are Earth's construction zones. If we do it anyway we shouldn't blame God for what happens to us. It's not his job to save us all from our unbelif. If we ask for help, believing, it's the beginning of the path out of trouble. We hope the people rebuild homes away from shore and are provided warning alarms.

    December 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DC

    Wow...amazing story...just amazing!

    December 22, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. joey

    f christmas you morons

    December 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jason

    I find it a little disturbing that she was 8 years old and only knew the first name of her grandfather. A lesson for everybody. Make sure your children don't just know you as Mom and Dad. Make sure they know your full name, your spouses name, your telephone number, your street address, what city you live in, etc.

    December 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Faceleakz Indonesia

    very good newz...!

    December 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Guest

    She must have been raised by mermaids for the past 7 years 🙂

    December 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Barack-a-buddy

    Nah, I agree with the crackpot teeneager. I think it's all Obama's fault. Pretty sure he wants all your kids too.

    December 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NODAT1

    nice story but why the pic of the destruction why not a pic of the family being reunited? was this story true or is just "feel good around the holidays story" to make all of us go awwwwwwwwwwww.........

    December 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
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