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Girl missing since 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami reunited with parents.

JAKARTA, Dec. 22 Kyodo

An Indonesian girl missing since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was reunited with her parents in Aceh province this week, relatives said Thursday.

Meri Yulanda, 17, arrived on her own Wednesday in her hometown of Meulaboh city on a bus from the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

Based on nicknames for her parents and grandfather that she remembered, a pedicab driver brought her to her grandfather's home. When her father Tarmiyus arrived, he confirmed Yulanda was his daughter who, along her older sister, were lost during the tsunami and assumed to have died.

''We identified her from a scar above her left eyebrow and a mole on her cheek. And more importantly, her face looks like her father's,'' Yulanda's aunt Dede Nurmi told Kyodo News by phone from Meulaboh on Thursday.

When the tsunami hit Meulaboh on Dec. 26, 2004, her mother Yusnidar fled on foot with the then 10-year-old Yulanda, along with her sister and younger brother to escape from the wave. But Yusnidar became separated from her daughters amid the chaos of people fleeing for their lives.

Yulanda was living in Banda Aceh by begging on the streets, probably as part of a syndicate of beggars headed by a woman, Nurmi said, adding that being away from school for the last seven years has left her unable to read.

''Meri had always asked the syndicate woman, named Fatimah, to send her back home, but that woman only gave her promise after promise,'' Nurmi said.

She said Yulanda either managed to run away from the syndicate or the woman finally sent her back home.

Yulanda herself has spoken little since returning home.

A flow of people have come to the house to see for themselves the girl who returned after being missing for seven years.

Yulanda's father Tarmiyus and mother could barely speak through their tears of joy at seeing their daughter again.

Meulaboh, in West Aceh regency, was among the worst-hit areas in the disaster that killed about 250,000 people in 11 countries.

In Aceh Province alone, more than 180,000 people died.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Dec 27, 2011
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