Darmi Ali lost his three daughters and wife to the 2004 tsunami. The 44-year-old remarried, and last week became a father again — of triplets, all of them female.

"I am overjoyed," said Ali, a police officer who was back at work Wednesday at regional headquarters in Aceh, the Indonesian province worst hit by the giant waves. "I lost my three daughters, and now they have been replaced by three other girls."

Many of the some 230,000 people killed across Asia were children, unable to swim or outrun the waves. Almost half the victims in the disaster were in Aceh, just east of where the giant earthquake struck.

Ali's tale mirrored that of thousands of parents in the province that morning.

"I gripped onto one of my daughters but the tsunami took her away. I was also knocked over, he said. "I tried to grab her, but I was not successful."

His three new daughters will remain in hospital until they gain weight — the smallest weighs just 2.43 pounds.

"I hope they all survive," said Ali's wife, Mariati, as she took a break from breast-feeding.