Girl swept away by Tsunami returns 10 years later

For weeks, months, even years, children have been reunited with family after the devastating December 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. In this photo, 10-year-old Zulfahmi cries into his grandmother\'s arms inside a hospital in Banda Aceh after they were reunited for the first time Friday, Jan. 7, 2005, twelve days after the earthquake-triggered tsunami in northwest Indonesia. Zulfahmi lost his parents, brother and sister in the disaster. (AP)

WASHINGTON — It’s miracle, the mother said, and it is hard not to believe her.

According to news reports, a four-year-old girl who was swept away with her seven-year-old brother in the devastating 2004 tsunami that hit her home of western Aceh in Indonesia, has been returned to her family, a teenager.

Some 170,000 people were estimated killed in Indonesia in the disaster, plus tens of thousands more in nearby countries, including Sri Lanka and India.

“God has given us a miracle,” said Jamaliah, the mother of Raudhatul Jannah, who went missing when Jamaliah and her husband, Jannah’s father, lost hold of their two children in the water on December 26, 2004. The two siblings were carried off in the waves and after a long search, the parents gave up hope that their children were alive.

Until now. In June, Jamaliah’s brother saw a girl with a striking resemblance to Jannah walking home from school in another village. After inquiries, he found the girl had been a survivor of the 2004 tsunami. A fisherman who rescued her gave her to his elderly mother, who proceeded to raise her over the last decade.

When Jannah’s parents went to see the now-14-year-old girl they believed to be their daughter, they knew immediately they had found her at last. “My heart beat so fast when I saw her,” Jamaliah told reporters.

“I hugged her and she hugged me back and felt so comfortable in my arms,” she said, adding that she could not stop the “tears from flowing.” Jannah has since returned to live with her parents in their village. She has told them that she believes her older brother is still alive and living on a nearby island and reports indicate the family has plans to look for him.

She is not the first daughter to return from the tsunami. In this story, an Aceh girl who was lost at the age of eight, was on the streets begging for seven years before she found her parents in 2011.

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