There are dramatic discoveries of missing people, like the announcement today that 12 young soccer players and their coach were found alive 10 days after disappearing in a cave system in Northern Thailand. And then there are mysterious and unexplainable discoveries, like the announcement out of Indonesia this week that a woman who was washed out to sea almost 18 months ago was found alive on the same beach wearing the same clothes she had on when she disappeared.
Multiple Indonesian media sources report that Nining Sunarsih was 52 and vacationing on the Citepus Beach in Sukabumi, West Java, on January 8, 2017, when a huge wave carried her out far beyond the point where onlookers felt safe swimming out to attempt to rescue the screaming woman. Professional search-and-rescue teams found nothing until a week later when a badly decomposed body washed ashore. Nining’s family denied it was her because it lacked a unique birthmark and the fingernails were different and a DNA test proved them correct. Nonetheless, all rescue operations were called off and the woman was pronounced dead by the authorities.
Fast forward to late June 2018. An elder male relative (either an uncle or a grandfather – Google translations of the reports differ) had a recurring dream where the woman told him she was alive and directed him to a beach near where she disappeared. was alive. A group of relatives accompanied him to the beach where, after searching for many hours, they found her at 4 am on July 1 … 500 meters from where she disappeared, unconscious, covered in sand and wearing the same clothes she reportedly had on 18 months ago – a floral yellow dress and black pants.
The local search-and-rescue office confirmed that the information given about the person found was the same as that reported when they looked for the missing woman 18 months ago. She was then taken to a local hospital where the reports said she was conscious and recovering, but still on fluids and not talking about where she’s been for the last year-and-a-half.
Where HAS she been? A spokesperson for the Syamsudin Sukabumi hospital said there were no signs of drowning in the woman’s lungs and she appeared to be physically healthy and responsive to instructions to move her hands and feet. Suara.com reports that residents around the beach claim they saw someone who resembled Nining either on the roadside by the beach or looking for a bathroom. In both cases, the woman was reportedly dazed and not interested in conversation. Another witness remembered the day of the disappearance and recalled that no one looked at a nearby inn to see if she may have come ashore unnoticed and gone there to recover.
Did Nining have a reason to “disappear” for a while? One report says her job was to go from house to house looking for people who needed a place to save their money. She “took care” of the savings and reportedly returned it for vacations or other reasons. Nining’s brother claimed that any money she was “saving” for other people had been disbursed before she disappeared. Was this a botched suicide attempt?
And why was she wearing the same clothes? There was no report that they looked like she’d had them on the entire time. Did she travel in time? Did she save them as part of an elaborate re-appearance scheme to hide her real reason behind an excuse of amnesia or mental illness? Did she spend 18 months in a near-death holding pattern? What about the uncle’s dream message? Coincidence or is he part of a hoax?
Whatever the case, like the relatives of the soccer players, the family of Nining Sunarsih is said to be happy to have her back. Will they change their minds when they know the real reason for her disappearance?
Will they ever know? Does she?