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Young Tsunami Victims and Survivors


An estimated one third of those killed in the Asian tsunami disaster were children. But there have also been stories of the miraculous survival of children.

In the aftermath of the tsunami that ripped through South Asia, leaving death and destruction in its path, stories of survival have started to emerge.

Hannes Bergstroem, a 2-year-old boy, has been reunited with members of his family. Among them were his grandmother and uncle, who reportedly saw him on the Internet and flew to Phuket, Thailand to claim him. His father is seriously injured. His mother remains missing.

This little boy may not be old enough to describe the horror he has survived, and yet his face, covered in mosquito bites, tells us part of his story.

10-year-old Sophia Michl is alone in a Phuket hospital. As she nurses her cuts and bruises, her parents too remain missing.

And then there's 7-year-old Karl Nilsson, a Swedish boy found alone in a Pukhet temple. The last time he saw his family was in their hotel room, right before the water came crashing through. When found, he told his rescuers, “Somehow I was able to breath underwater.”

This German father describes how his daughters were nearly stolen away by the monstrous waves. “My wife said, ‘You come out of the water,’ and she heard, ‘Momma, Momma!’ ”

These are just a few of the children who survived; still thousands of others did not. UNICEF's Carol Bellamy explains why. "They are closer to the ground, they are less strong, they might be able to run, but they can't run that fast. They can't hold onto something as long as the adults. They are seeing family ripped away from them."

Bellamy reminds us that the countries are poor. In some cases, where half the population is 18 or younger, the impact has been profound.

"Children dead, children separated from parents, children who've seen villages disappear, their schools gone, their teachers gone. Clearly the long term impact on children is great," said Ms. Bellamy.

For the children who survived, UNICEF is now shipping what is calls "Schools in Boxes," so teachers can teach again, even if it's simply under a shaded tree. They're trying to create some sort of normalcy, knowing it will be a long time before anything is normal again.