KUALA LUMPUR: Insurance sales manager Sue Siew Keong and her Korean husband, Lim Woo Jeong, had joined her mother at a family dinner here before they left for a holiday in Thailand on Christmas Eve.
It was the last time housewife Tio Ah Toh saw them alive.
On Sunday, she heard the devastating news that a tsunami had hit Phuket and killed her daughter and son-in-law, who was also an insurance manager.
Sue, 42, and Lim, 33, who both worked at Great Eastern Life Assurance, had driven to Thailand with four of their children.
One of their sons stayed back here because of a business commitment.
Tio, 65, who was still in a state of shock, said she did not know the details of the tragedy except that only the children survived.
The couple’s seven-year-old daughter, Jessica Lim Ji Sun, whose nose was injured, was treated with several stitches.
The other children, from Sue’s previous marriage, escaped unhurt.
They were Edward Soo Li Ze, 22, who is also in the insurance business, and students Olivia Soo Ting Ting, 17, and Cinder Soo Yong Yong, 12.
Another son, IT project executive Howard Soo Li Yee, who is Edward’s twin brother, stayed back to work.
“I could not believe the tragic news when I heard it,” said Tio, as she wept for the dead couple. “We had just had dinner a day before they left for the trip,” she sobbed.
“My daughter was committed to her job and had always been busy and could hardly spare time for the children,” she said, when met at the family home in Kepong yesterday.
Tio said it was a traumatic experience for the children and she could hear them crying when they called to tell her the tragic news.
Two of Tio’s sons have gone to Thailand to make arrangements to bring back the children and the bodies home.
They are expected to be back in Kuala Lumpur by midnight today.
Interviewed at his home in Bandar Sungai Long, Howard said he did not join the family trip because he was stuck with a business project.
An uncle called him on Sunday to go to Tio’s house.
“He did not say anything else over the phone and only told me about my parents’ death when he came to fetch me,” he said, staring blankly into space.
“I want to see my brothers and sisters to be certain they are in good health,” he said softly.
Sue’s elder sister, Karen, said her family had contacted Lim’s family in South Korea.
They are expected to arrive in Malaysia within two days.
A funeral service would be held for the dead couple at the Nirvana Memorial Centre in Sungai Besi before they are laid to rest.
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