Thu, Dec 30, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese girl survives tsunami in coconut tree


A TV-grab taken yesterday shows six-year-old Yeh Chia-ni recounting her experience of surviving a tsunami in Phuket, Thailand. Her mother is still missing.


A six-year-old Taiwanese girl survived the killer tsunami that battered Thailand after landing in a coconut tree that prevented her from being washed away, local TV reports said yesterday.

The girl's family had arrived for a vacation in Phuket from Shanghai, where they are based, a few days ago.

Yeh Chia-ni (葉佳妮) was on the beach with her mother, Chiang Wan-ling (姜婉玲), at the Phi Phi resort when the tsunami deluged the island.

The girl was rescued after being stuck in coconut trees for a day and a night. But her mother was washed away by the surging water and is missing.

"I was hanging up there ... a foreigner climbed up and saved me," she told the TVBS news channel.

The girl was reunited with her father in Phuket after being treated at a hospital for light injuries. She was reportedly calm and cooperative when receiving treatment. She suffered a few bruises and needed six stitches on her forehead.

"I thought my parents didn't want me anymore," the girl said. "I hadn't had breakfast, lunch and dinner for a long, long time."

Yeh Chia-ni will return to Taiwan while her father, Yeh Shih-ping (葉時斌), remains in Thailand to search for his wife.

"[Chiang] was holding our daughter when the big waves came," the father said. "So she was unable to run very fast."

Yeh Shih-ping said he felt blessed to have been reunited with his daughter, and was praying for a second miracle.

Relatives of missing Taiwanese businesspeople are still searching for their loved ones in the area.

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