A TWO-METRE-HIGH tsunami crashed into beach resorts and fishing villages on Indonesia’s Java island today, killing at least 86 people, leaving scores more missing and sending thousands fleeing to higher ground, witnesses and officials said.
Regional agencies issued bulletins saying a magnitude 7.7 earthquake that had struck beneath the Indian Ocean was strong enough to send a killer wave hurtling toward Indonesia, the country worst hit by the 2004 tsunami.
But the alerts did not reach the victims because the densely populated island -- where a powerful quake killed thousands earlier -- does not have a tsunami warning system. The hardest-hit area today appeared to be Pangandaran, an idyllic beach resort long popular with local and foreign tourists, where witnesses said people shouted “tsunami, tsunami,” and climbed trees or crowded inland mosques as the wave approached.
“All the houses are destroyed along the beach,” a woman who identified herself only as Teti told el-Shinta radio. “Small hotels are completely destroyed and at least one restaurant was washed away.”
The extent of damage further up the coast was not immediately clear, with some roads blocked and power and phone lines cut. But casualties were reported at several spots along some 180 km of beach, officials and media reports said.
Officials and media reports said at least 86 people were killed. Indonesian Red Cross official Arifin Muhadi said that many of the dead were in Pangandaran, and that 77 other people were missing. “We are still evacuating areas and cross-checking data,” he said.
There were no immediately reports of foreign deaths, but at least one Swedish man was being treated for injuries at a local hospital and his two sons, ages 5 and 10, were missing, said Jan Janonius, a Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman.
The family was vacationing at Pangandaran, he said, refusing to provide more details.
Meanwhile, a New Delhi report said: The coasts along the Andaman and Nicobar islands and West Bengal were put on high alert after the earthquake.
A meeting of the Disaster Management Committee in the island, which was badly affected in the 2004 tsunami, also put on high alert vulnerable areas like the Indira Point, the southern most tip of India, islands in the Campbell Bay, Katchal island and the entire Car Nicobar island.