A tsunami survivor, long thought to have been dead, has been found ten years later and reunited with her mother and father. Raudhatul Jannah, an Indonesian 14-year-old, was only four years old in December 2004 when a devastating tsunami wiped out her village home in Aceh province, located at the northern end of Sumatra. Jannah, clinging to wooden planks along with her then 7-year-old brother, were carried away by the surging waters, thought never to be seen again.
The AFP on Aug. 8 describes the homecoming, a decade in the making: “The children’s mother, Jamaliah, and her husband survived the quake-triggered tsunami that killed tens of thousands in Aceh, and had long ago given up hope of finding their children alive. But in June, Jamaliah’s brother spotted a girl in an Aceh village walking home from school who bore a striking resemblance to Jannah.”
Jannah’s father, Septi Rangkuti, said he was cautiously guarded when his bother-in-law spotted who he believed was their long lost daughter.
“There’s no way that’s my daughter, I thought, because it had already been 10 years,” Septi said. “But when we saw her, we knew, we felt the bond right away.”
Septi said that they will take a DNA test if the state requires them to prove they are the girl’s mom and dad. “If we need to do a DNA test, then we are prepared to, if people don’t believe us. But we are sure she is our daughter,” he said.
Jannah spoke about being back with her family. “I am very happy I can be with my mother and father again,” she said. The lost girl had been raised by the elderly mother of a local fisherman after she was found alone in the remote islands southwest of Aceh.
The AFP picks up the story:
Jamaliah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, on Thursday said it was a “miracle” her daughter had been found and described how she could not stop the “tears from flowing” during an emotional reunion.
“We are very hopeful we can find her brother,” Septi told reporters. “We have reported our son missing to the police so they can help us find out his whereabouts.”
Rangkuti, 52, believes his son Arif Pratama Rangkuti may still be on the Banyak Islands, an archipelago some 60 miles from the Aceh coast where the children ended up after being swept away.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and resulting tsunami killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, making it one of the worst recorded natural disasters in history.