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Email Forward: Help Identify Young Girl Caught in Tsunami

Email asks recipients to help identify a young girl injured in the Asian tsunami disaster (Full commentary below.)

Was true. However, the child was identified and reunited with family members soon after the tsunami so the continued circulation of the message is now pointless.

Example:(Submitted, March 2009)
Subject: Do you know this girl???

Please forward this if you have any overseas contacts... thank you..

This little girl is at the PHUKET HOSPITAL - She does not remember her own name or anything about herself. She has lost her parents, please forward this EMAIL to all your contacts - someone might recognise her. She was a victim of the tidal wave disaster in Phuket, Thailand and nobody knows who she is. So we are hoping if we distribute this EMAIL around the world someone, God willing, will recognize her.

Please don't just delete this - your contribution could be the one that solves this little girl's problem

Even if you are one of the people who believes that it is always someone else's obligation to help the misfortunate, please know that forwarding this will cost you nothing. Let's help!! Forward this to everyone you can.

Lost Tsunami Girl

Versions of this email forward have now been circulating continually since soon after the Asian tsunami disaster of 2004.

The young girl pictured was indeed a victim of the tsunami. However, the child was identified and returned to family members in Germany quite soon after the disaster. After the girl's photograph was posted on the Phuket International Hospital website and a number of news publications around the world, she was identified as 10 year-old Sophia Michl of Germany. Soon after she was identified, Sophia was taken home to Germany and reunited with family members.

Sadly, Sophia's parents, Mr. Norbert and Mrs. Edeltraud Michl, died along with many thousands of others when the tsunami hit on Boxing Day 2004. Norbert Michl was a well respected attorney-at-law who worked for a German law firm. The following information about the death of Mr and Mrs Michl is included on the company's website:
On December 26, 2004 Mr. Michl and his wife Edeltraut Alsdorf-Michl were victims of the Tsunami disaster in Khao-Lak. Their daughter Sophia survived the catastrophe. We lost a friend, partner and founding partner of our firm with whom we harmoniously and successfully collaborated since 1989. Likewise, we miss him as a competent professional colleague as well as a most cordial individual who moved all of us forward.
The continued circulation of this email several years after Sophia was identified and taken home is pointless and will serve only to clutter inboxes.

A similar email that asks for help to identify a little boy caught in the tsunami also began circulating soon after the disaster. Thankfully, like Sophia, the little boy, later identified as Hannes Bergstroem, was reunited with members of his family after the disaster.

Ten-year-old Sophia is back in Germany - parents missing (Google translation from German)
Sophia Michl Chain E-Mail (Google translation from German)
The net recovers toddler believed lost

Last updated: 17th March 2009
First published: January 2005

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen