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Monday 22 September 2014

Daughter found by her parents 10 years after tsunami

Kathy Marks

Published 09/08/2014 | 02:30

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Jamaliah (left) gives a hug to her daughter Raudhatul Jannah after being reunited in Meulaboh, Aceh, northern Sumatra, Indonesia

When four-year-old Raudhatul Jannah was swept from her parents' grasp by the Indian Ocean tsunami on St Stephen's Day in 2004, they believed she was lost to them forever. Ten years on, a chance sighting has led to them being reunited with their daughter.

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The family lived in Indonesia's Aceh province, the place closest to the epicentre of the earthquake which sparked the tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries.

As the giant waves raced ashore, engulfing their village in West Aceh, Jamaliah and her husband clung to a floating plank of wood, clasping Jannah and her seven-year-old brother, Arif Pratama Rangkuti, tight.

But the two children were washed away by the raging waters, and after a month-long search their parents gave up hope of ever finding them alive. Even so, Jamaliah "prayed to God every night" that she would see them again.

This June, Jamaliah's brother was visiting a village in another district, Aceh Barat Daya, when he saw a young girl walking home from school who bore a striking resemblance to his missing niece. He learnt that she had been caught up in the tsunami and swept to some remote islands south-west of Aceh.

There, a fisherman had rescued the little girl and taken her back to mainland Sumatra, the island of which Aceh forms the far north-western tip. He gave her to his mother, who brought up her up and called her Wenni.

"My heart beat so fast when I saw her," said Jamaliah. "I hugged her, and she hugged me back, and [she] felt so comfortable in my arms."

The couple have fresh hope that their son may be alive too, after their daughter told them that the two children were stranded together on Banyak Island. (© Independent News Service)

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