At Least 112 Dead, More Than 500 Missing After Indonesia Quake

by
staphni
"(CNN)
At least 112 people were killed and 502 others were missing after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck off Sumatra on Monday and triggered a tsunami, Indonesian officials said Tuesday.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake generated a ""significant"" tsunami. Some of the missing may include people who are unaccounted for after fleeing to higher ground, said Henri Dori Satoko, the head of the Mentawai Islands parliament.

Although communication with remote areas was difficult, some witnesses in West Sumatra reported seeing a wave 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) high. Other reports described the tsunami as being about 3 meters (almost 10 feet) high.

Satoko said at least one village with a population of about 200 people was swept away, with only 40 people recovered.

Eight to 10 Australians on board a tourist vessel who had been feared missing were reported to be safe, Satoko said. ""All foreign tourists are safe."".

The numbers of dead and injured were in flux because information was trickling in from remote parts of Indonesia, a country made up of myriad islands. The area believed hardest-hit was the Mentawai Islands, a popular surfing destination. In particular, Pagai Island was thought to have been affected, said Ita Balanda, a program manager for World Vision in Padang.

Large waves were keeping rescue crews and aid workers from reaching the area. An Indonesian Red Cross assessment team had set out for the island but was forced to turn back because of high seas and debris in the water, said Gayat, spokeswoman for the agency, who like many Indonesians only uses one name. She said the team will try again Wednesday morning.

The trip takes 10 hours, even under good conditions, Balanda said.

The quake struck at 9:42 p.m. Monday, triggering a tsunami warning that was later lifted when sea level readings indicated the threat had diminished or was over for most areas. Its