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. Steve

    Okay, grown man crying here. What a great ending!

    December 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • tonysgirl1959

      Nothing wrong with crying, Steve. That's so wonderful! I'm so happy for that family!

      December 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cooper

      Congrats! Like tonysgirl1959 said, nothing wrong with that.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • csam18

      Wow.. just WOW! That story gave me goose bumps all over! I'm lost for words. Family must be so happy beyond belief! I wish the girl and her family a new wonderful life together.

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

      Let the tears flow. This has to be the best Christmas for that family. Absolutely beautiful!

      December 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nicole


    December 22, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sd

    Too bad the Tsunami did not finish the job.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • kude

      Either I am misunderstanding what you are trying to say, or it was you that deserved to die in the tsunami...

      December 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anita

      You are the first troll. I bet you have been waiting for a juicy story you could say something stupid too. Are you done or do you need more people annoyed with you?

      December 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • GSB

      Dude believe it or not...u are not human...n ur days r limited...

      December 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac jones

      Yes that's right. Thank GOD for the tsunami, and other disasters. A nice homicide or zombie plague is fun also! Locusts anyone? How about a hilarious nuclear war? I think I'll go run someone down for fun now. Any other ideas Einstein?

      December 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robby Robinson

      I do NOT understand the troll thing, maybe you could help me and I assume that others are curious as well exactly why is it that you (as a typical troll if there is such a thing) must always no matter the discussion, cast an UGLY dissenting opinion?
      I can guarantee that if you were sitting with friends (assuming you have any) that you would NOT voice your disgusting comment that the tsunami didn't finish the job. Why is it that you feel that NEGATIVE attention is in fact better than NO attention.
      I can ONLY assume that you are in fact NOT a troll, but a very sad lonely human being in a season that is supposed to be a beautiful time (provided you have money, people that love you and people that you love) Christmas time is indeed a wonderful time for many but for the invisible(homeless) and those without family or friends, the forgotten,Christmas is nothing but a cruel reminder of ALL things that you used to have.
      So SD, I think your comment is NOT out there to show people you are an ugly person, it is out there so that someone ANYONE will hopefully respond so you can find some kind of validation.
      I will not villify you but I will reach out to you and let you know that whatever it is that you are going through, it is possible to get through provided you want to get through it.
      The ball is in your court, email me at

      December 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marine5484

      What the hell is wrong with you

      December 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kude

    Very rare that a story could bring me to tears. Merry Christmas...

    December 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anita

    Beautiful story. There is always hope.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jimbobjoejackjr

    I had to register just to respond to some of your idiodic comments.
    1. As for the people who's kids are so smart they'd find their way back home: just because you have your kids in the car, on the interstate every day, doesn't mean they'd necessarily be able to find their way back home, especially if they were transplanted to a third world country and possibly had never left their village.
    2. Not being able to remember anything after a cataclysmic disaster that you personally only witnessed from the comfort of your computer-desk chair is pretty plausible.
    3. People that comment on news articles to complete strangers through the comment section just like to pretend their opinion/thoughts mean something. Go tell your actual friends – see if they care.
    4. People that actually take time out of their day to respond to my comments – see #3.
    5. I wish they'd remove the comments section following articles so I wasn't so tempted to see how stupid the people are that like to comment on articles.

    6. God had nothing to do with any of this.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mac jones

      Yes it's odd. The whole movie thing about amnesia has pretty much made everyone think it's just a movie trick but it's actually can be real with children apparently. Trauma can make them lose it pretty much, from what i've read.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • finallyabrain

      This is the first intelligent comment I've read on any of these boards.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • BoFo

      See paragraph 5. You are one of the people you describe.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gino P.

      ... and yet here you are posting thinking your opinion counts as well.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • homer

      Oh, yes – thank you. I frequently wish no comments were allowed so I didn't make the mistake of looking. You said everything I wanted to.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • dbcouver

      I agree, I often wish I had the last 20 minutes of my life back. Kind of like a train wreck though, and yet again, here I am.....

      December 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cleigh

      you must have a lot of time on your hands

      December 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • r

      Amen ... you are so right I feel the same way . :0

      December 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Katie

    What a great story. :o) Thank you for sharing it, CNN.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kaiser

    great ending , sd ,what goes around comes around ,you could die tomorrow .

    December 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. a. miyahira

    What an amazing story. So Blessed that this girl is alive @ well. God is definitely watching over her and her family.; + }

    December 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    Wow! Truly amazing how this little girl survived. I would have loved to seen the moment they were reunited. GASP!! This story takes winner over the depressing war garbage everyone else is writing about.. thanks!

    December 22, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JohnRJ08

    Something stinks about this story. I know it's almost Christmas and we all like happy endings, but something does not ring true about this. Especially the idea that an 8-year-old couldn't remember her family name. I think this is going to be exposed as a stunt of some kind.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Did you not undestand the article? She was 8 when the tsunami hit, in 2004. She is now 15/16. Also, the trauma of the experience caused her amnesia. Sometimes our minds block out traumatic events.

      December 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oyster

      I agree, something is really doesn't add up here.

      December 22, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mh

      Indonesians commonly only have one name. They do not have 'last' names like people do in other countries. That may be surprising to you, but that is often the case in some Third World Countries. She went through a very traumatic experience and could not remember her parents' names (most children don't call their parents by their first names). It doesn't seem that odd. Plus, her town was most likely washed away.

      December 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mikrik13

    Stories of displaced people finding their way back to loved ones are always uplifting. Natural disasters, war torn countries and immigrant histories are full of such wondrous stories. Real tear jerkers.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Woloh

    7 years couldn't get back home? Sounds like a child abuse case to me.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Robby Robinson

    A heartwarming tale indeed !!
    A few years ago I might have even believed this could be true. But in today's world, I find this nothing more than a hoax.

    Another person said god is responsible for bringing this child home, now I myself DO believe in god but I am not one to believe that god saved this child.
    When a kidnapped child is found alive(sadly a rare result) the world rejoices in god put his protective shield around this dear child and said not them not today. So what about all of the babies that have been ripped from our embrace and violated and murdered by vicious criminals?What about those killed in natural diasters Were they NOT as special as those who were found alive? Did god say no not this child but that one over there, you can kill that one?
    Again whilst I believe in god, I don't understand this and I ask someone to help me understand.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Earl Weaver

    It just doesn't get any better than that. A happy ending, for a change.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
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