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23. The Unlikely Reunion
On December 26, 2004, a 10-minute long earthquake
a 9.3 magnitude occurred in the Indian Ocean.
massive earthquake, which is the third strongest ever
in history, triggered various powerful tsunamis that reached
a dozen countries' shores. Nearly 230,000 people were
by the end of the catastrophe, and hundreds
thousands of others ended up injured or missing.
the midst of all the devastation caused by
disaster, many amazing and inspiring survival stories have
. One of the most extraordinary of these is
story of a young girl named Wati.
struck her hometown of Aceh when she was
eight years old. Like so many others, the
waves separated her from her family, and she
up being washed into an unknown town. After
years of searching for her, her family gave
and assumed she had died after being swept
. Miraculously, Wati was returned to her parents seven
later, at the age of 15!
, she had been "adopted" by a stranger who
her on the streets after the tsunami. Although
woman took her in to live with her,
forced Wati to beg on the streets and
often beat her if she did not make
money. The girl had tried to find her
by asking for help from strangers, but did
remember the names of her parents and could
vaguely remember that she had a grandfather named
Finally one day, a cab driver who heard
's story happened to know an old man with
name in a nearby town and decided to
her to him. Although the old man did
recognize her at first, he took Wati to
his daughter. "When I saw my mother, I
it was her," said the 15-year-old. "I just
." The parents were able to confirm that it
was their daughter based on a scar and
on the girl's hip. This miraculous story is
one of the only confirmed reunions among families
were separated by the disaster.