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Indonesian Tsunami Death Toll Climbs to 105, Nearly 130 Missing


The Indonesian Red Cross says Monday's tsunami that struck the southern coast of Java island killed at least 105 people, and left nearly 130 others missing.

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake sent a two-meter wave of water crashing into coastal villages and into buildings along Pangandaran Beach on the southern coast of West Java.

Residents fled for high ground, but eyewitnesses say most of the houses and hotels along the beach were destroyed. The quake's epicenter was more than 180 kilometers south of the island.

Roads to the resort village are heavily damaged, and power outages have hampered rescue efforts. Andi Mallarangeng, a spokesman for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, says military and police have been dispatched to the affected region.

"There is now still search-and-rescue operation that is being conducted around the area, to find out if there are any more victims," he said. "The local government is now evacuating people around the coastal areas of Ciamis and around some other places around the south coast of Java."

He says a Tsunami alert went into effect in Indonesia moments after the earthquake registered at monitoring stations. India and Australia raised similar alerts.

No damage has been reported outside Java.

Mallarangeng says public education about such disasters has improved since the Indian Ocean Tsunami in late 2004, which left more than 200,000 people in 12 countries dead or missing, 150,000 of them in Indonesia's Aceh Province. He says widespread disaster awareness may have saved lives this time around.

"This time, I think people in Indonesia, and even in the world ... when you have an earthquake very close to the coastal areas ... the first thing you have to do is go to higher ground, and then an evacuation plan has already been drawn up by the local government in all of these coastal areas all over Indonesia," he said.

Officials of the country's Meteorological and Geophysics agency say at least five aftershocks hit the quake area Monday. The largest had a magnitude of 6.1.

Indonesia is still recovering from a 5.9 magnitude quake that struck Central Java in May, killing more than 5700 people and leaving tens-of-thousands homeless.

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