Tsunami miracle baby, now 19, pursues accounting degree [NSTTV]

GEORGE TOWN: Nineteen years ago, when a 9.1 magnitude earthquake hit the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, S. Thulaashi was just a 22-day old baby.

On that day, the waves raced 600 kilometres from Sumatra to Penang at 800 kilometres per hour.

Thulaashi was sleeping on a mattress at her family cafe on the beach when the first one came and swept her out to sea.

A second wave came and miraculously sent her back to shore.

She made world headlines, sleeping throughout the whole episode without a single drop of seawater on her body, earning her the nickname 'Tsunami Miracle Baby'.

Speaking to the New Straits Times, Thulaashi shared her gratitude for her survival and honoured the 37 lives lost at Pantai Miami.

"This has been an annual practice for my family and I will continue to do it for as long as I live.

"I am just grateful and thankful for having survived the killer waves," she said.

Today, Thulaashi is pursuing a degree in accounting, and helps out at her parents' seaside cafe here.

The cafe is situated at the site of the miraculous event and remained a gathering place for locals and tourists alike, drawn by the compelling story and the chance to hear it firsthand from the miracle baby herself.

Part of the thanksgiving tradition, Thulaashi said, her parents will offer food to those who visit them at the cafe, including people who are in need.

"Visitors, including foreigners, who are on holiday here and read about my news, will also come to dine here to hear my story and of course for the food.

"Even my relatives still talk about it during each family gathering," she added.

In a 2019 interview with NST, Thulaashi's father A. Suppiah, 74, said that his daughter was not allowed to go into the water without being accompanied by him or his wife L. Annalmary, 61.

"I remember what happened on that fateful day very clearly — The hot sun, the wind and how I rushed out of the room.

"When the tsunami hit, the sea water smelt of sulphur, something which I had never experienced before although I have been staying by the sea most of my life," he had said then.

Asked if that was still the case, Thulaashi said her parents were protective of her when she was small, "but now I am allowed to go to the sea alone."

"In fact, I love the sea very very much. I enjoyed every bit being in the water. I am not scared despite what happened in the past."

However, Thulaashi does practice precautions, understanding how disaster events are unpredictable.

The Boxing Day tsunami, one of the deadliest natural disasters in the region, left an indelible mark on the affected countries, claiming thousands of lives and causing widespread destruction.

As Thulaashi continues to thrive and embrace her love for the sea, the annual prayers serve as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength that emerged from the tragic events of December 26, 2004.

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