Floating mattress saves 20-day-old baby from drowning

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 28 Dec 2004

PENANG: While thousands of people lost their lives when a tsunami hit the region, a 20-day-old baby survived, thanks to a floating mattress. 

When the tsunami hit the popular Miami Beach in Batu Ferringhi here at about 1.15pm, S. Tulasi was sleeping in a room behind her father’s western food outlet along the beach. 

“We were all caught off guard when the wave hit us. I was thrown several metres away but managed to hold onto one of the posts but my 12-year-old daughter was swept by the wave,” said A. Suppiah. 

Suppiah, 55, said his wife, Annal Mary, 40, braved the strong wave to open the room door to save their baby. 

“I thought I had lost both my daughters but thank God the mattress was floating in about 1.5m of water and my baby was crying. My other daughter, Kanchana somehow managed to get to her feet and run to safety,” said Suppiah who injured his right ankle. 

Suppiah, who has been running the outlet for the past 10 years, said the wave caused about RM30,000 in losses. 

“I don’t know what to do now. My livelihood depends on tourists staying in the hotels around here and daily visitors. I hope the Government will allow me to continue doing business here,” he added. 

For ice cream seller, A. Subramaniam, the safety of a few hundred picnickers was his main concern when he saw an unusual wave moving towards Teluk Bahang beach. 

“I had never seen such a wave. I knew something was wrong as the wave was dark and as high as a coconut tree,” he said. 

Riding a 200kg motorcycle loaded with ice cream, Subramaniam said he rode on the sand and screamed to the picnickers to leave the place. 

“But many of them just stood and watched the coming wave. The first wave was not that strong but the second one was very powerful and lasted about five minutes,” he added. 

Subramaniam said he managed to prevent a 16-year-old girl from being swept away by the wave. 

“Fortunately enough, the people there ran to safety before the second wave came. But when I rushed to Batu Ferringhi, I saw many people being swept by the wave,” he said. 

His son, Kugilan, 14, who was selling ice cream in Tanjong Bungah, said he saw several children being swept by the waves. 

“Their parents tried to pull them but the waves were very strong,” he said. – Bernama 

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