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Fears for family missing in tidal disaster

FLORYDA SMITH: a care assistant at a Kent care home
FLORYDA SMITH: a care assistant at a Kent care home

A KENT couple and their two children are missing in north west Sumatra, close to the epicentre of the Asian earthquake.

Gareth and Floryda Smith, from Beltinge, near Herne Bay, and their sons Zerubbabel, nine, and Joshua, six, were visiting family there. The two sons are pupils at Reculver School.

The family had left on December 8 to spend six weeks over Christmas with relatives of Mrs Smith, a native Indonesian.

Friends at Herne Bay Baptist Church, where the family worship, are praying for their safe return.

Church minister, the Rev Tom McKinlay, said other family members in this country had not heard from the Smiths since the devastating tsunami tidal waves struck across Asia on Boxing Day. The family have been listed as missing through the Foreign Office.

Mr McKinlay said: "Gareth and Floryda are a very quiet couple who keep themselves to themselves. The children are delightful, lively boys, full of character and life.

"We are assuming they are all right and mobilising our church to pray for them all as well as getting people involved in practical ways to raise funds for the appeal.

"It is heart breaking to think of them suffering in this tragedy as so many other people have.

"We are hoping they will get in touch as soon as possible by 'phone or e-mail. We have all been very shocked to hear they are missing."

Herne Bay Baptist Church is holding a charity restaurant on Saturday, January 8, from 10am-2pm to raise money for the disaster fund. Members had already made this decision before they heard the Smiths were missing.

The same evening there will be a special concert to raise money for the same cause at 7.30pm at the church.

Well known Herne Bay pianist David Ruddock will perform assisted by his daughter Julia Todd, and hopefully, a prominent, top class saxophonist. Tickets will be £5 and available on the door.

Mr McKinlay said: "We wanted to raise as much money as we could for the tsunami appeal before we knew about the Smith family."

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