A powerful earthquake triggered a three-meter tsunami that pounded remote island villages in western Indonesia, killing at least 113 people and leaving scores more missing, an official said on Tuesday.
The fault that ruptured on Monday on Sumatra island’s coast also caused the 2004 quake and the monster Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
A day after the quake struck 20 km beneath the ocean floor, rescuers were still struggling to get to the Mentawai islands — which are closest to the epicentre — because of strong winds and rough seas on the way to the islands that can only be reached by a 12-hour boat ride.
But reports of the damage and causalities from the 7.7-magnitude temblor were already steadily rising.
Mujiharto, who heads the Health Ministry’s crisis centre, said 113 bodies have been recovered so far. The number of missing was between 150 and 500.
“We have 200 body bags on the way, just in case,” he said.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.