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Girl swept away in tsunami reunited with family

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 24th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A girl who survived after being swept away in the Indian Ocean tsunami seven years ago has been tearfully reunited with her family, who had since given up hope of ever seeing her - alive or dead, ever again.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Antara, the Indonesian state news agency reported the girl, Wati, who is now 15 years of age was only eight years old when she was ripped from her mother's arms by the rushing waters near her home in West Aceh, Indonesia, in December 2004.

Her mother was trying to get her and two other children to safety at the time.

The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen nations hit Aceh, closest to the epicenter of the magnitude-9.1 quake that created waves 30 feet high - the hardest.
 
Wati, 15, at a cafe in Meulaboh, a town in Aceh province, said she had been found and "adopted" by a woman who forced her to beg in the streets late until the morning hours. Wati had been kicked out by her "adopted" mother when she stopped bringing in money.

Wati said she could only remember her grandfather's name, saying it was Ibrahim. Someone at the cafe tracked down a man by that name, and the man, who was still unsure if it was actually his granddaughter summoned her parents.

"When I saw my mother, I knew it was her. I just knew it," Wati says, who was given that name by the woman who found her. Her original name is Meri Yuranda.

Considering that tens of thousands of bodies were never recovered in the province, many people there continue to cling to hope of finding lost loved ones, putting up fliers or ads in newspapers.

Reunions are extremely rare and - if they occur - rarely confirmed.

Wati's 35-year-old mother, Yusniar binti Ibrahim Nur, said she did not need a DNA test to prove the girl was hers.

"She has her father's face," she said, adding that she had stopped believing she would ever see her daughter again. "Then I saw the scar over her eye and mole on her hip, and I was even more sure."

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