Over 2 million lives were lost twelve years ago when a tremendous earthquake created a tsunami which devastated parts of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.
The horrible thing was that there was no way of warning everyone for what was to happen. Even the meteorological department could not predict the deadly destructive waves that were to come. But there was one person who did see what was coming in advance, and in turn ended up saving 100 people, including her own family.
She has since been coined the miracle girl, and this is her story.
It was December, 2004. Tilly, 10-years-old, was with her parents and sister, on vacation. They were on the Maikhao beach in Phucket, Thailand. Suddenly, Tilly spotted the tides rushing out. This was a familiar sight to Tilly. She had actually watched a video on tsunamis in Hawaii which was shown in her Geography class.
Heres how Tilly describes what she saw:
The sea was fizzing and there was froth on of the waves. I kept thinking, Ive seen this, Ive seen this somewhere. I felt something terrible was going to happen.
Naturally her parents brushed off her warnings initially. No one wants to think the worst while on vacation, and the likelihood of such an event didnt seem realistic at the moment. But when Tilly noticed conditions were getting worse as a log spun in circles in the sea, she was certain these were textbook tsunami conditions and her parents better take her seriously now. So she started shouting the following:
Tsunami, theres going to be a tsunami. We have to get off, we have to run.
With her daughter clearly in panic mode, Tillys father decided to quickly inform a Japanese security guard about the fizzing waves that her daughter had spotted. Thankfully the guard was aware of the earthquake that had happened in the Indian Ocean and he put two and two together and became seriously alarmed at the situation. He yelled for everyone to run towards the hotels. Tilly recalls the panic situation that occurred:
There was a family kayaking in the sea, people in the pool. Everyone started running, there was sheer panic.
Tilly continued her life saving efforts by telling everyone to head for high ground, as water began flowing into the lobby at the hotel. Everyone on the beach was saved, and Tillys parents later realized they would have been casualties of the massive disaster had they not listened to their daughter.
Its no wonder Tilly was deemed Child of the Year by a French childrens newspaper. The United Nations invited her to meet the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Relief who, at the time, was Bill Clinton.
In 2014, it was the tenth anniversary of the deadly tsunami. Tilly re-visited the site in Thailand along with her family. They reflected on the day that killed millions, and the dozens that were saved thanks to Tilly.