Tsunami survivors recount horrific experience

KMJ president Mohamad Fauzi Ishak (in orange) handing a water suction pump to Rumah Anak Yatim Johor Aceh principal Nurhayati Shalat (fourth from right) during their visit.

ACEH: For Mohd Siddiq Mohd Dahlan, seeing his family – his parents and seven other siblings – washed away by the seawater on Boxing Day in 2004, when the tsunami struck the Aceh Province on that fateful day, was the most horrific experience for him.

Mohd Siddiq was five-years-old when the disaster struck. The now 18-years-old teenager is a resident at Asrama Anak Yatim Aceh Johor.

He recalled that on Dec 26, 2004, his mother and sisters were in the kitchen preparing breakfast in their house in Kg Baru, Aceh.

“It was eight in the morning when the earthquake occurred, and I heard them yelling out to family members to climb to the roof when seawater gushed in, washing away everything and anything that was in its way,’’ he said during a visit by members of the Johor Media Club (KMJ) and Johor Corporation (JCorp) employees.

Mohd Siddiq said his family quickly climbed to the roof of their house but that the water level had continued to rise and all his family members were washed away by the water except for him and his brother as the latter was holding Mohd Siddiq firmly.

Both of them saw hundreds of dead bodies lying in the area and they finally stumbled upon their uncle when the water receded.

“The three of us took shelter at one of our relative’s house. These houses were spared as they were on higher grounds,” he said, adding that they stayed with their relatives for about a month.

Mohd Siddiq was one of the survivors in the Aceh Tsunami 2004 which killed more than 120,000 people in the province.

He moved to the orphanage soon after, while his brother lives with his relatives until now.

Another survivor, 65-year Sulaiman Miuhamad Amin, an imam with Masjid Rahmatullah in Lampu’uk, lost his wife and daughters in the tragedy and their bodies were never found.

“I was about to perform my morning prayers when the earthquake struck and had to crawl out of the house due to the strong tremor,” he said, adding that a few hours later, water suddenly gushed into his house, pulling away his family.

Sulaiman managed to hold onto a big wooden plank but unfortunately his wife and daughters did not survive the tragedy.

A total of 6,400 from the village perished in the incident. Only 600 survived.

During the visit, KMJ and JCorp handed over the JCorp-KMJ Aceh Earthquake Humanitarian Fund to Pidie Jaya vice-regent Said Mulyadi.

They also gave a water suction pump to the orphanage.

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