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Thousands displaced by tsunami disaster

Thousands displaced by tsunami disaster


Pangandaran, Indonesia, Tuesday – Tearful parents searched Tuesday for missing children and soldiers dug through the debris of homes flattened by the second tsunami to hit Indonesia in as many years. At least 306 people were killed, officials and media reports said, with at least 160 others missing.

Bodies covered in white sheets piled up at makeshift morgues _ with the corpse of at least one woman lying on a beach long popular with local and foreign tourists.{{more}}

“I don’t mind losing any of my property, but please God return my son,” said Basril, a villager, as he and his wife searched though mounds of debris piled up at Pangandaran resort on Java island’s southern coast.

The area hit by Monday’s disaster was spared by the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami, and many residents said they did not even feel the 7.7-magnitude undersea quake that unleashed the two-metre (two-yard) -high wall of water.

But some recognized the danger when they saw the sea recede and fled to higher ground, screaming “Tsunami! Tsunami!” A black wave shot to shore half an hour later, sending boats, cars and motorbikes crashing into resorts and fishing villages.

The death toll rose to at least 262, officials and media reports said, with the numbers expected to grow.

“We are still finding many bodies. Many are stuck in the ruins of the houses,” said local Police Chief Syamsuddin Janieb, who said at least 172 people were killed and 85 others were missing in the Panganderan area alone.

A Pakistani national, a Swedish national and a Dutch national were among the dead, he said, but did not give their genders.

At least 23,000 people fled their homes, either because they were destroyed or in fear of another tsunami, so accounting for the 170 missing could take time, other officials said on Tuesday.

“We saw a big wall of black water. I ran with my son in my arms and when I looked back, the waves were at our house, they destroyed our house,” said Ita Anita, who was on the beach with her 11-month-old child and other relatives. “The water knocked me down, my son slipped out of my hands and was taken by the water.”