Published December 29, 2004
PHUKET, Thailand – A Swedish toddler was reunited with his father Wednesday, days after being found alone in the aftermath of the deadly tsunamis that swept Asia.
With the reported help of a Thai princess, Hannes Bergstroem (search) was taken by helicopter to hospital for treatment and his photo posted on the Internet earlier this week.
The 18-month-old's uncle spotted the photo and claimed him Tuesday, setting up Wednesday's reunion with Hannes' father, Marko Karkkainen (search), at a hospital on the southern Thai island of Phuket where both father and son were receiving treatment.
Hannes, his face scratched and pocked with mosquito bites, looked bemused as his father choked up with emotion.
Karkkainen said he had been told of the reports his son was rescued by a Thai princess and said: "I have been to Thailand seven times, and this time only confirmed what I know about Thai people — that they are so generous and caring."
Despite the joy of seeing one another again, the day remained tinged with sadness and anxiety — Hannes' mother Suzanne Bergstroem is still among some 5,000 people missing in Thailand since the giant earthquake-spawned waves hit on Sunday. Almost 2,000 people are confirmed dead in Thailand, and nearly 77,000 across almost a dozen countries hit.
Asked about the unidentified princess who reportedly rescued his son, Karkkainen replied: "she has saved his life, but also my soul because I couldn't survive if I lost them both."