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Indonesian Tsunami Kills at least 337

  • VOA News

Indonesian officials say a tsunami that slammed into the southern coast of Java island has killed at least 337 people.

Many others are missing - hundreds are injured, and at least three thousand are homeless.

An undersea earthquake generated a two-meter-high wave Monday. It destroyed buildings and sent people running for the hills on the coastline of West Java province.

A Red Cross Indonesia spokesman (Hadi Kuswoyo) told VOA a full-scale relief operation is under way there.

Local emergency coordinators report at least 23 thousand people have evacuated the hard-hit Pangandaran Beach area.

Washed out roads and downed electric power lines are slowing search and rescue operations. Much of the area is without electricity.

People are hesitantly returning to their homes today (Tuesday) in some areas, still fearing another tsunami. Seventeen aftershocks had been recorded by daybreak today (Tuesday), two of them greater than six in magnitude.

Monday's seven-point-seven magnitude earthquake was centered in the Indian Ocean, 360 kilometers south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Java was unprepared for the tsunami. A local tsunami warning issued by regional centers was not relayed in time to the people who needed it.

Indonesia has begun installing a tsunami warning system off Sumatra island, but officials say the country-wide system will not be ready until 2009.

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