Death toll in Indonesia tsunami at 86 - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Death toll in Indonesia tsunami at 86

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Posted: Monday, July 17, 2006 11:50 am | Updated: 4:37 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

CIAMIS, Indonesia - An earthquake sent a tsunami crashing into beach resorts on Java island Monday, killing at least 86 people, leaving scores missing and sending thousands fleeing in an area spared by the devastating Asian tsunami of 2004, officials, witnesses and media reports said.

Regional bulletins that the 7.7-magnitude undersea earthquake was strong enough to create a killer wave did not reach the victims, because Indonesia's main island has no tsunami warning system.

Thousands fled to higher ground along a 110-mile stretch of the densely populated island's southern coast. The hardest-hit area appeared to be Pangandaran, an idyllic beach resort popular with tourists. Witnesses there said people shouted "Tsunami! Tsunami!" and climbed trees or crowded into inland mosques as the wave approached.

The Indonesian Red Cross, police and district officials said at least 82 people were killed, most in Pangandaran and nearby Cilacap. El-Shinta radio reported four other deaths.

"We are still evacuating areas and cross-checking data," Red Cross official Arifin Muhadi told The Associated Press. He said 77 people were missing.

At least one Swedish tourist at Pangandaran was being treated for injuries at a hospital and his two sons, 5 and 10, were missing, said Jan Janonius, a Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman.

A witness told el-Shinta he saw the ocean withdraw 1,500 feet from the beach a half-hour before the powerful wave smashed ashore, a typical phenomenon before a tsunami.

"I could see fish jumping around on the ocean floor," Miswan said. "Later I saw a wave like a black wall."

Local media reports said the wave came as far 900 feet inland in some places. Buildings sit close to the beach in Pangandaran.

Roads were blocked and power cut to much of the area. Damage and casualties were reported at several spots along the 110 miles of beach affected, officials and media reports said.

"All the houses are destroyed along the beach," one woman, Teti, told el-Shinta radio. "Small hotels are destroyed and at least one restaurant was washed away."

Santi, a tourist at Pangandaran, told The Associated Press said she saw about 20 bodies at a health clinic. Officials at the clinic could not immediately be reached for comment.

Indonesia has installed a warning system across much of Sumatra island but not on Java. It has been planning to extend it there by 2007.

Java was hit seven weeks ago by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 5,800 people, but was spared by the 2004 tsunami that killed 216,000 people, nearly half of them in Indonesia's Aceh province.

The May earthquake did not affect the part of the island hit by Monday's tsunami, which was spawned by a quake that struck deep beneath the Indian Ocean 150 miles southwest of Java's western coast.

The 3:24 p.m. quake caused tall buildings to sway as far away as the capital, Jakarta. The strength of the temblor was revised upward from magnitude 7.1 after a review by a seismologist, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks.

Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa said he had heard reports about a tsunami striking two seaside towns, and urged people on Java's southern coast to move inland in an orderly fashion.

"Everyone should move from the beach," he told el-Shinta.

After the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Japan's Meteorological Agency issued warnings saying there could be a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Later, waves measuring up to 7 inches were recorded on Bali island and near Australia's Coco Islands.

Indonesia is on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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