Girl Lost in 2004 Tsunami Returns Home


Wati's journey started as she fled surging waters from the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean with her mother and two siblings. The powerful waves tore her from her mother's grip, though her siblings were saved.

Wati was eight years old when the waters exiled her from her village Ujong Baroh in West Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Her journey ended seven years later at the doorstep of her grandfather, Ibrahim, in Meulaboh City, Indonesia, reported MCOT news.

The final stage of her ordeal came when Wati, now 15, found her way to a coffee shop in Meulaboh City. She sat in silence, until people asked her what she was up to. She was trying to find her way back home, she said, but she didn't know how to get there.

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The only name she could remember was that of her grandfather, Ibrahim. She had made her way by bus from Banda Aceh to Meulaboh City looking for him. An acquaintance brought Wati to Ibrahim's home.

Ibrahim summoned Wati's parents Yusniar and Yusuf to meet the girl who seemed to have returned from the dead. Her parents recognized her from a small mole and a scar over her eyebrow she got when she was six.

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The details of the rest of Wati's journey were not told to MCOT's reporters, only that over the years she had been to other districts in Aceh province.


Trash and debris line the streets in downtown Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, following the massive Tsunami that struck the area on December 26, 2004 (Michael L. Bak, Wikimedia Commons)

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