The girl named Wati, 15, who uses just one name, was ripped from her mother’s grasp in the province of Aceh by the raging waters and has not been seen since.
But on Wednesday a friend of the girl’s grandfather, Ibrahim, brought a teenaged girl in a headscarf to his house in the city of Meulaboh.
She had been discovered sitting in silence in a coffee bar, but when questioned she said that she had come by bus from Banda Aceh and was trying to find her way home and did not know how.
The girl said she could not remember any of her relatives’ names except Ibrahim, which made her grandfather think she could be his long-lost grandchild.
He immediately summoned her parents, Yusniar and Yusuf, who confirmed that the dark-skinned Wati was their daughter from a mole and a small scar on her elbow.
What had happened to Wati in the intervening seven years was unclear.
She was lost when she lost grip of her mother as her home village of Ujong Baroh was hit by the tsunami. Yusniar managed to hold on to Wati’s two siblings, but became resigned that her eight-year-old daughter was gone for good.
Aceh was one of the worst hit places in the Indonesian tsunami, losing 168,000 people out of a global total of 230,000 dead.