Sunday, 10 August 2014

Indonesian girl swept away by 2004 tsunami reunited with family

Mother says Raudhatul Jannah was rescued from sea and taken in by islanders until an uncle spotted her in street
 
A child who went missing in the 2004 tsunami has been reunited with her family in Indonesia, nearly 10 years after they assumed she had been killed. Raudhatul Jannah, now 14, was carried out to sea with her brother, only to be rescued by fishermen. She was raised by the fisherman’s mother, Raudhatul’s mother said. More than 170,000 people were killed in Aceh province by the Boxing Day disaster

Tsunami Jannah grandmother
Raudhatul Jannah with her mother, Jamaliah, and grandmother. Jamaliah says her daughter was cared for by the mother of the fisherman who rescued her. Photographs: Achwa Nussa/AAP/Sijori
tsunami mother kiss
Raudhatul, now 14, is kissed by her mother. The girl was swept out to sea along with her brother
Tsunami devastation
An aerial view of a devastated village in Aceh, Sumatra, after the 2004 tsunami. More than 170,000 people were killed in the province
tsunami family
Raudhatul with her family after being reunited
tsunami brother
Jamaliah holds up a picture of her daughter and missing son, taken before the Boxing Day tsunami tore the family apart
Tsunami Jannah
Reports said Raudhatul was spotted walking home from school by her uncle
 
An Indonesian family claims to have found their missing daughter a full decade after she was swept away as a toddler by the 2004 tsunami and presumed dead.
“It’s a miracle from God,” mother Jamaliah, 42, told the Jakarta Globe. “When I saw her, my heart was beating really fast … We couldn’t hold back our tears.”
Fleeing huge waves as the tsunami pummelled their village in West Aceh on 26 December 2004, Jamaliah said she and her husband, Septi Rangkuti, 52, ran for safety but couldn’t escape the water. Her husband found a large wooden board and put the two youngest children on top of it — daughter Raudhatul Jannah, then 4, and her brother Arif Pratama Rangkuti, 7.
Septi was separated from his children in the mayhem and the parents spent a month looking for them after the tsunami receded, with no leads and, eventually, no hope.
More than 170,000 people in Aceh, and tens of thousands of others in other countries around the Indian Ocean, were killed by the Boxing Day tragedy.
The couple moved house with their one surviving son and carried on with their lives, expecting to never find their missing children — until in June Jamaliah’s brother spotted a girl who looked like missing daughter Raudhatul.
He asked local villagers about the girl and discovered that she had been orphaned by the tsunami. Swept from Aceh all the way out to a remote island south-west of the province, she was rescued by a local fisherman and taken back to the fisherman’s house, where he spent the last decade raising her as “Wenni” with his ageing mother.
“It’s a miracle from God,” Jamaliah told the paper, describing how she and her husband visited the girl in late June to confirm the rumour.
“The girl’s face resembles mine,” she added, claiming that she was willing to take a DNA test to confirm the girl’s identity. “Maybe because there was a strong connection, when I hugged her, she hugged me back and felt very comfortable in my embrace.”
Daughter Raudhatul returned home to live in West Aceh with her parents on Wednesday. After 10 years living apart, mother Jamaliah said she is building a strong relationship with the girl’s foster parents, who are very happy that she found her “supposed birth parents”.
But the arrival of Raudhatul may bring even more good news. The girl, now 14, says that she and her older brother Arif, who is still missing, both survived the tsunami and ended up together on Banyak Island. But the girl was taken away by one fisherman, and the brother by another man, leading the parents to believe their son – also presumed dead for the past decade – may be out there too.
“My instinct tells me he’s still alive,” she says of her son. “We’ll go there soon to find [him].”

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