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. tigernick33

    Tim Tebow saved her

    December 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rizzla

      lmao he sure did!!!

      December 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • instinct

      Not surprised by this comment. Neocons always take credits whether they deserve it or not.

      December 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric of Reseda

      Wow! I'm a Liberal, hate organized religion, especially Evangelical Christianity, and even I find this comment to be offensive. First adn foremost, Tebow is a good kid who has brightened the lives of MILLIONS. Second, there is NO humor or satire or spoof in this comment for the simple reaosn that clearly, you lack the very fine skills of a comedy writer. So it's just a TOTAL miss at humor, which is dangerous, since the comment can only come off as MASSIVELY stupid. Third, are you such a dead human being, or one of these young teens that walk around TRYING not feel – on the outside, 'cuz it ain't "cool" (they'll realize what idiots they are now in about 10 years.) – that you cannot appreciate and comment on what an AMAZING occurance this is? So much pain, alleviated overnight?!? A little girl finds her parents and her parents, their daughter, when all seemed lost, and all you can do is make an idiotic Tebow joke?!? Wow, again. You're clearly a punk.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • paddydon

      Thanks, Tigernick33....That made my day...haha. Along with the actual story as well.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      Hey, guys–lighten up. This about as offensive as saying Obama caused the tsunami. It's just silly. Tebow is a public figure, and public figures come in for this stuff....On the other hand, if you're on the Broco/Tebomania bus, I totally understand.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • WordUpToo

      I actually think tigernick's post was funny, and kind of sums up the current current Xtian B-S going on currently in our culture. Sad to say but there probably are some people who actually believe that Tebow had something to do with her return.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ComSenseWiz

      Tebow will make a good back up once Denver gets a real quarterback. Good kid notwithstanding the delusional belief in fiction.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      And Eric–you need to relax, man, or you'll give yourself a stroke. Then you wouldn't be able to speak or write, and how fund would that be? Oh wait...for you, or for us?....Never mind.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • amanda hugenkiss

      Hey Eric – Lighten up, that was a freaking funny comment.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      Can't Tebor just be "a good kid" without reference to his beliefs? Especially if they are irrelevant to you?

      December 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      And Eric of Reseda has a lot of time on his hands!! Tebow is a T-bone who drives millions of Americans crazy. I'm a big NFL fan and I'm about sick and tired of hearing about him already.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • tigernick33

      geez eric, take a pill dude, its a freakn joke. Tebow is all over the news and yes i do believe he is a good kid and this is an awesome story. lol glad most peeps have a sense of humor

      December 22, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kitty

    How happy the family must be...they are complete

    December 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. horridpplsuk

    Wow, you can tell it's Christmas vacation now...all the little ungrateful trolls with their stupid comments should fight for the right to stay in school instead of being off for this HORRIBLE Christian holiday since they obviously don't believe in God. No wonder they are so sarcastic. Or perhaps mummy and daddy could assign a few chores or (gasp) maybe ask them to do something to help the less fortunate????

    December 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Actually, this isnt a Christian holiday. This used to be a winter solstice celebration. The Christians stole this and many other pagan holidays long ago. Jesus wasn't even born in the winter. He was born in the springtime. So, I like the secular aspect of Christmas. Santa Claus > Jesus.

      December 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • WordUpToo

      what's God got to do with it? Let me see...if God found her and reunited her with her family, why did he have her swept away to begin with 7 years ago? Folly on his part?

      December 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • hippediva

      aren't you just full of holiday cheer!

      December 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      Hey horrid and all you other Grinches–leave Whoville.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terminatus

      Why are you even addressing the trolls? These things can't be reasoned with, have no conscience, and are about as worthless as fecal spray. The troll derives its power from your shock at reading its brainless rants. My advice: bite a stick and fight your urge to respond.....they feed on attention.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      A Terminaturs: I know they feed on attention. But I like Whoville, and I enjoy telling the Grinches to "LEAVE!" That part's just fun at this time of year. People who take them seriously foget that some of them are professional provocateurs; and some are just provocateurs.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason K

      @ Chris

      You are mostly correct, Christmas and "Easter" are not "Christian" holidays at all. Yeshua Bar Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph) was born on Tishri 1st Which would be the new moon (first day of the first month) This is also known as the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah. This day falls typically in late September or Early October as it follows the Jewish Lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian Solar calendar we use. The "Holy Roman Empire" and Papacy are responsible for the assimilation of the winter solstace and Easter.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason K


      "Easter" is actually a reference to a pagan goddess of fertility and maybe the moon(not sure on that one) known as Eoastra (not sure on spelling). "Easter" referring to the date of resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) would also fall on the Jewish Calendar on the "Feast of Firstfruits" which falls on the passover week. Its interesting to me that the "Christian" church still refers to this time by a pagan name like Easter. This may be because many denominations ESPECIALLY the Roman Catholics assimilated many of the pagan traditions into their dogma and practices over time. One of these is the worship of Mary (who is the mother of God, like Ishtar in the Babylonian myths), and saint worship which is a direct link to ancestor worship, putting them on a level to intercede before God for common man instead of man talking to God himself.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. USMC Guy

    I am happy to hear that this little girl was able to find her family. I was deployed to Sri Lanka to help with the relief effort there. The area was devestated and I will never forget my short time there. The people were so grateful. They would often try to give us the little food they had as a "Thank You". I remember running on the beach one day for morning PT and we saw a little little girl and a man (who I assume was her grandfather) waving American flags chanting U.S.A!!! U.S.A!!! U.S.A!!! I remember thinking..."That's why I joined the military...That's why I serve our great nation...That's why I sacrifice my own freedom"

    December 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernando laredo TX

      THank you for your service, what a great story

      December 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Having lost my best friend in Sri Lanka that day, your story touches me. I am thrilled this girl was reunited with her family & thank you for helping out the Sri Lankans that survived this tragedy!

      December 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • TW

      Thank you for your story ....... wow.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willyd

      what a wonderful tribute to our troops and a much higher class of comment than many have posted here. Thank you, USMC Guy.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Thanks for sharing! That is such a touching story.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TriXen

    What a great story!

    December 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. In America

    I don't care who believes or not, I'm not a preacher, but something like this at this time of year has to be more that simply coinsedential.

    December 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      No, it doesn't, and the word is coincidental. Coincidence happens more than you think, no need to put any deeper meaning into it. Wonderful news for this girl and her family, though.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • JFWilder

      Coincidence is all it is. She was actively seeking someone and finally happened to find them. It took seven years. In seven years, you can cover a lot of ground and meet a lot of people. Stop injecting fairy dust into everything.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • WordUpToo

      well if Gawd had anything to do with it, in that part of the world it is likely that is was Allah and not your Xtian Gawd, so be careful to whom you give credit.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh Not Again

      This is as coincidental as going to Starbucks and finding a barista there. She went looking and finally found one.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      First, as a Christian, I say: It is coincidence in terms of how we understand coincidence. There is nothing spiritually magical about Dec 25. It's an artificially appointed day. Second, It almost certainly would be Allah that this family prays to, if they pray to anyone. Third: God is great, and there is no God but God. That part's simple. It's the artificial rules we put around it that make relationships difficult. Those rules include insisting that others agree that there is no God.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • WordUpToo

      Leslyn – no one is "insisting that others agree there is no God." We are only trying to point out the irony that if there is a God, he/she is rather random in how he/she delivers good and bad. And your statement "there is no God but God" – WTH? That in itself is a conundrum...shouldn't it be "there is no Gods but Gods?" since yours is not the only one since you are not the only believer.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fortune Smiles

      Leslyn – you make no sense at all and are babbling like a brainwashed Hari Kreeshna. Only you can understand the circular arguments you make. The rest of us...we'll beleve what we want, when we want, where we want, and with whom we want and worship any false idol we care to worship...or none. You're conceit is amazing...and you'll surely go to he11 for it. 😉

      December 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      *throws leslyn to the ground* I've heard enough of you!! *tea bag* *tea bag* *tea bag* Yah right in the face!! You love it, I kow it!!

      December 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pat

    An incredible story and some good news for a change! This made my day a little brighter!

    December 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    DNA. Simple.
    1956. Ingrid Bergman (beautiful). Yul Brynner (sharp razor). Helen Hayes (smart lady). ANASTASIA. I was thrilled in a big Chicago theater.
    Cut to exhumation. DNA. Oops.
    There's a fortune here anyway.

    December 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • WordUpToo


      December 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO

      That seemed to go over peoples heads JIF. Watson and Crick. I had to think a bit too.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JFWilder

    Surely there are plenty more out there in her status that have not been found. She's a lucky one for are her parents. Nothing but luck here...and a determined little girl and an observant guy who didn't just pass by on the initial hunch. No magic...just odds.

    December 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Chris:
    Hail Wotan!
    Happy winter solstice!

    December 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kyon

    Even if you are an Atheist, you can't question how magical this moment must be for the family

    December 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      What a silly thing to say. Of course it's a "magical" thing in the sense that it's incredible and awesome. But magical in a hocus-pocus way, sorry no.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fortune Smiles

    Good fortune certainly smiled on this little kid today. I couldn't imagine wandring around for seven years trying to find someone that I wasn't even sure who it was. Yes...the jebus freaks will say some mystic power or God had something to do with it...but he seems that if he did, he was the jerk who put the tsunami out there in the first place. This kid's perserverence is simply amazing...but it shows what a HUMAN can do when they put their mind to it. Put yourself in the right place at the right time and good things will happen....and NEVER GIVE UP!!!

    December 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Long Hair Mormon

    Thank you beautiful people of our military ! You walk the walk. 96% of this country talk the walk, then sit back & complain.Ask that poor girls parents if they believe in the LORD. Merry Christmas

    December 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fortune Smiles

      How about asking them if they believe in Allah, Bhudda, Rah, or the tooth fairy.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Long Hair Mormon

      I see u have much taik & fear.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation on chances are they DO believe in Jesus...just not as Lord...and NO Mohammed is not Lord in Islam...although the Arabic word for Christ in the Qur'an is "al-Misah" which would be the same root word from "messiah"

      December 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Boo Kakey

    We all have to thenak Howard Stern and Bababooey for this wonderful story.

    December 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mary

    I want to feel uplifted by this incredible story.. I want to feel this is a glorious day and all is well ~!
    But, too much is left unsaid..
    After the tsunami I heard many children were 'taken' to work as s*x slaves.. Who were not drowned at all.. But the parents had no way to know.
    This sounds like some of this girls story is not going to be so good..

    December 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
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