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Twin disasters have Indonesia reeling

Rescue workers are scrambling to find up to 500 of people believed to be missing after Indonesia was hit by a volcanic eruption and a tsunami which killed more than 300 people.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2010 23:55 IST

Rescue workers are scrambling to find up to 500 of people believed to be missing after Indonesia was hit by a volcanic eruption and a tsunami which killed more than 300 people.

Fishermen and relief crews searched the sea west of Sumatra for survivors of the deadly tidal surge set off by Monday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake west of South Pagai, in the Mentawai islands. The remote islands, popular with surfers, were hit by 10ft waves that killed at least 272 people.

On Wednesday corpses littered the roads and beaches, according to district head Edison Salelo Baja. The relief agency World Vision said 500 people are missing.

Rough seas and bad weather have hampered relief operations. The first cargo plane loaded with 16 tons of tents, medicine, food and clothes arrived on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 800 miles away along the same geological fault line, one of the country's most active volcanoes spewed out clouds of ash and jets of searing gas as officials tried to evacuate more than 11,000 people from the area.

At least 28 people have been killed and dozens more injured in the eruption of Mount Merapi or Fire Mountain, on Java, which started on Monday. On Wednesday rescue workers continued to search the slopes of the mountain for survivors. There are concerns that more eruptions could follow.