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July 8th, 2011
07:40 PM ET

CNN Heroes: Grief-stricken mom found a new family after tsunami

Phuket, Thailand (CNN) - When Southeast Asia was rocked by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2004, Susanne Janson was glued to her television in Stockholm, Sweden.

Her two daughters - 14-year-old Eleonor and 12-year-old Josefin - were vacationing in Thailand at the time with her ex-husband and his new family, and she hadn't heard any news of their whereabouts because phone lines were unreliable.

With such a lack of information, it didn't take long for Janson and her partner, Hans Forssell, to hop on a plane.

"I was so sure that when we arrived in Thailand, I would have a (text) message telling me that I could come back home because we missed each other in the air," Janson recalls. "Unfortunately, I didn't have that message."

When Janson and Forssell arrived in Khao Lak, the city her daughters were staying in, they learned that it had been one of Thailand's hardest-hit areas.

"There was nothing left ... everything had disappeared," Janson said.

Eventually, she had to face a tragic reality: that her daughters had perished along with their father and three other members of his family.
"When I realized I wouldn't bring them back home alive, I wanted to die," said Janson, 47.

Read more about Janson here.

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