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Indonesia: Quake wave "carried men 200m inland"

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 28, 2010 09:20 AM

Published: 2010-10-28 09:20:13
Countries: Indonesia

As reported by ABC News and The New York Times.

Indonesian authorities scrambled to deal with two deadly disasters on Tuesday 26 October, after a tsunami and volcanic eruptions struck in separate regions of the vast archipelago.

The 7.5-magnitude undersea quake hit Indonesia's Kepulauan Mentawai region at 9:42pm (local time) on Monday 25 October, at a shallow depth of 14.2 kilometres, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. Rescue workers and fishermen searched for survivors however reports are that the powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami killed at least 113 people and left hundreds missing. Thousands more were homeless.

Australian Captain Rick Hallet, who runs a boat charter business in Indonesia, says waves generated by the earthquake off the coast carried bystanders up to 200 metres inland. He told the Nine Network that huge waves devastated one of his boats which was anchored off Pagai Island in the Menatawi group, which is popular with Australian surf tourists.

"We threw whatever we could - the floating surfboards, fenders, whatever else we could overboard, and all jumped in the water," he said. "Then some guys were carried probably up to 200 metres inland on the wave. Fortunately most of us had something to hold onto, various floating objects, and managed to avoid the trees."

Another Australian who works for a surf charter company in Indonesia says the waves have caused a serious boat crash in the Mentawi islands. Jamie Gray, a tour operator told ABC NewsRadio that his colleagues described a terrifying ordeal. "The Midas, which was a boat with our clients on it, has collided with another boat called the Freedom due to a three-metre tsunami and that's knocked everybody off the boat," he said. "Our major concern is to ensure the safety of all our clients and make account for them so we can obviously inform their friends and family."

Residents reported shaking as far away as the West Sumatran provincial capital of Padang, but fears of widespread damage eased a few hours after the quake. "There was shaking that went on for about three seconds or so," Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said.

About 800 miles to the east, on the island of Java, thousands of villagers were fleeing multiple eruptions of Indonesia’s most volatile volcano, Mount Merapi, after it began spewing clouds of hot ash in the early evening Tuesday.

The death toll has now topped 280 with over four hundred still reported as missing, whilst those who survived stated that they had no warning that a ten-foot high wall of water was about to hit.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity, and the archipelago is frequently struck by powerful earthquakes.