July 17, 2006

Indonesia tsunami toll 105

By Heru Asprihanto

PANGANDARAN, Indonesia (Reuters) - Rescuers picked through
debris on Indonesia's Java island on Tuesday, searching for
survivors a day after a tsunami killed at least 105 people.

Officials said nearly 130 people were still missing after
Monday's huge waves, triggered by an undersea earthquake,
crashed into Java's southern coast, washing away buildings,
wooden cottages and kiosks lining the shoreline facing the
Indian Ocean.

"The search for victims is still going on. We will search
for bodies and possible survivors," Diding, an official from
the worst-hit area, Pangandaran, told Reuters. "This morning
the TNI (military) troops and other volunteers have arrived."

Metro TV reported several bodies were found in trees after
waves up to 1.5 meters (five feet) high waves pummeled
Pangandaran beach near the town of Ciamis, 270 km (170 miles)
southeast of Jakarta.

News of the disaster spread panic across a region still
recovering from the December 2004 tsunami in which nearly
230,000 people were killed or reported missing, mostly in

But there were no reports of casualties or damage in any
other country from Monday's tsunami.

Many people returned to salvage their belongings such as
boat engines and clothes from the wreckage of their homes after
the tsunami, which destroyed fishing boats and damaged cafes,
motels and restaurants about 500 meters from the coastline.

Pangandaran, the area that bore the brunt of the tsunami,
is a popular local tourist spot with many small hotels on the
beach. It is close to a nature reserve.

"Yesterday I was on the eastern beach, people were running
and so was I ... I saw how the water rose. It was about 7 to 10
meters," Rizal, a survivor told Elshinta radio as he picked
through the debris of his home.


Anxious survivors lifted sheets covering dozens of bodies
lining a hospital floor as they searched for relatives missing
after the waves battered their homes, leaving the area strewn
with bamboo poles, fallen trees and collapsed straw huts.

Dozens of people fled in the dark on motorcycles and cars
with horns blaring and headlights flashing early on Tuesday as
rumors swirled of another tsunami, but government officials
assured them there was no reason to panic.

Television footage showed a distraught woman wailing and
throwing her hands in the air in a rubber plantation office in
the port of Cilacap. Beside her, more than a 100 people huddled
beside rows of sleeping children covered with batik sheets.

The U.S.-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the
earthquake's magnitude was 7.2, while the U.S. Geological
Survey put it at 7.7. Indonesia's state meteorology and
geophysics agency said the quake's strength was 6.8 on the
Richter Scale.

Indonesia's 17,000 islands sprawl along a belt of intense
volcanic and seismic activity, part of what is called the
"Pacific Ring of Fire."

The December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was triggered by a
massive earthquake. Nearly 170,000 people were killed or
reported missing in Indonesia's Ache province. Tens of
thousands died elsewhere, the majority in Sri Lanka, India and

Earthquakes are frequent in Indonesia. In May, an
earthquake near the central Java city of Yogyakarta killed more
than 5,700 people.

(Additional reporting by Telly Nathalia in Jakarta)