NASA Earth

An Indian man, separated from his family as a child, discovered his lost hometown online.

Just how impressive are Google Earth’s rendered maps?

They’re detailed enough to trigger a 30-year-old man’s memory, leading him back to a family he hadn’t seen since he was five.

According to Australian newspaper The Mercury, Saroo Brierley was a five-year old Indian boy, begging at a train station, when life took a turn for the worse.

He boarded a train by mistake, fell asleep, and found himself ten hours away from home, with no idea how to get back. His misadventures included nearly drowning in the Ganges River and almost being kidnapped into slavery. He eventually was declared an orphan, then adopted by parents in Tasmania, Australia.

“Using Google Earth, I spent so many hours zooming in and out looking for something I recognised,” he told the paper.

Eventually, he recognized the train station from that fateful day. He virtually roamed his old town and found some of its citizens. Finally, in early March, he flew there, and wandered the barely familiar streets until he found his family.

One brother, he found, died on the same train tracks that swept Brierley away. But his mother said she never stopped searching for him, and was told by fortune tellers they’d be united some day.

Photo by Shimgray

Kevin Collier

Kevin Collier

A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.