At least 179 dead as Indonesia hit by tsunami, volcano

At least 179 people have died after a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake hit Indionesia.

Updated: Oct 27, 2010, 14:08 PM IST

At least 179 dead as tsunami, volcano hit Indonesia

Jakarta: Indonesian authorities appealed for aid after a tsunami smashed into an island chain and a volcano erupted less than 24 hours later, leaving scores dead and thousands homeless.

Entire villages were washed away and houses flattened when waves triggered by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake late Monday pounded an area off the west coast of Sumatra, on a major fault line in a region known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire".

At least 154 people were killed and some 400 remain missing, officials said, as terrifying stories of the power of the waves emerged from the remote area.

"They have lost their houses and now need a lot of aid and assistance. There are some tents already arrived here but we still need many more," West Sumatra provincial disaster management head Harmensyah said.

"We need to find the missing people as soon as possible. Some of them might have run away to the mountains, but many would have been swept away."

Several hundred kilometres away on the central island of Java, another 25 people were killed when the country`s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, erupted on Tuesday, spewing searing clouds of gas and lava into the sky.

Officials said almost 29,000 people had fled to temporary shelters around the nearby city of Yogyakarta, but there were fears for the fate of thousands more who had refused to budge.

Monday`s quake struck in the Mentawai Islands, an area popular with surfers, generating a tsunami as high as three metres (10 feet) and sweeping away 10 villages.

Survivor Borinte, 32, a farmer from Detumonga village on the coast of North Pagai island, said he managed to stay alive by clasping to a piece of wood. His wife and three children were killed.

Bureau Report