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Tsunami family search goes on

August 8, 2014

An Indonesian family separated for a decade by the 2004 tsunami say they now want to find their son. The couple were recently reunited with their 14-year-old daughter Jannah, renewing hopes their son is also alive.

Jamaliah (L) gives a hug to her daughter Raudhatul Jannah (C) after being reunited in Meulaboh, Aceh, northern Sumatra, Indonesia, 07 August 2014. Raudhatul Jannah went missing during the Indonesian tsunami nearly ten years ago after she was rescued by fishermen drifting on the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004. Her uncle spotted her in another village in June 2014 and noticed a striking resemblance to the missing girl and checks confirmed it was her. The December 2004 Tsunami killed more than 170.000 people in Aceh province alone. EPA/ACHWA NUSSA
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The Indonesian parents who were reunited with their daughter after 10 years apart said on Friday thay also harbored strong hopes of tracing the long-lost son who was carried away in the powerful tsunami of 2004.

Arif Pratama Rangkuti was just seven years old when the tsunami washed him and his younger sister Raudhatul Jannah away from their home in Aceh province on December 26, 2004.

A tearful reunion between Jannah and her parents on Thursday has sparked hopes the family's 17-year-old son could also be found. "We are very hopeful we can find her brother," Jannah's father Septi Rangkuti said. "We have reported our son missing to the police so they can help us find out his whereabouts."

New hope

Rangkuti says he believes his son may still be somewhere on the Banyak Islands - to which the children were washed by the powerful wave. Both Jannah and her brother were initally taken in by a local fisherman and his family, but they could not look after two children and decided to give the boy away.

The birth parents said they had given up hope of ever seeing either of their children again, until one of the youngsters' uncles noticed a girl who looked uncannily like Jannah in a local village. After asking around he found out she had lost her family in the tsunami, and was now living with the family who rescued her.

The father's intial reaction was disbelief. "There's no way that's my daughter, I thought, because it had already been 10 years," Rangkuti told journalists. But, he added: "When we saw her, we knew, we felt the bond right away."

Jannah's adoptive family is also happy about the reunification,and said now she has two families. "We are very happy they have reunited. She will always be part of our family, and actually, we now all feel like one big family," the fisherman's mother Sarwani said.

The disaster, triggered by a massive earthquake, killed more than 200,000 people across dozens of countries.

an/rc (AFP/dpa)