Yesterday, the Indonesian News Agency, Antara News
, reported that Wati, a 15-year-old girl, returned home after being missing since Dec. 26, 2004, when the Asian tsunami struck her village and carried her off.
Wati's family reside in the village of Ujong Baroh, located in West Aceh. When the waters were racing through the village, Wati's mother, Yusniar, was trying to save herself, Wati, then eight, and her other children by leading them to higher ground. Wati somehow broke away from her mother's grasp and was swept away by the rushing waters. Yusniar and the others all survived.
No one in the village ever saw or heard of Wati again. That is until last Wednesday.
On that day, Ibrahim, Wati's grandfather, received a knock on the door at his home in Meulaboh. It was an acquaintance who was accompanied by a teenage girl that the friend thought might be Wati. Wati told Ibrahim that she had travelled to Meulaboh by bus from Banda Aceh. She was trying to get home but did not know how. She could not remember her parents' names or the names of any other relatives except for one; she remembered she had a grandfather named Ibrahim.
The acquaintance told Ibrahim he had met the girl in a coffee shop where she sat alone. He believed she was a beggar and after talking to her for awhile, he thought she might be Ibrahim's long lost granddaughter.
Ibrahim wasn't sure so he contacted Wati's parents and they came to his home. After examining a mole on the girl's body as well as a scar their daughter had received above her eye when she was six, they were convinced the 15-year-old was in fact the child they believed had died seven years ago.
It is not known exactly what Wati did or how she survived after the tsunami struck but it is believed she did beg, wherever she was.
According to National Geographic
, the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami was caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake under the Indian Ocean. It is estimated that the power released by the tsunami was equivalent to 23,000 atomic bombs similar to the one dropped on Hiroshima. It is also estimated that 150,000 people were either killed or missing in 11 countries, including Indonesia.