The death toll from a tsunami that slammed the Mantawai islands off Indonesia’s Sumatra two days ago may rise as rescue agencies struggle with disrupted telecommunications and difficult search conditions.
At least 113 people were killed and 150 others missing, Mujiharto, head of the crisis center at the Health Ministry, said in a mobile-phone text message last night. The National Disaster Management Agency said 31 people were confirmed dead and 174 missing as of late yesterday. The agency received its information from the regional disaster office on Sumatra, Maryadi, a spokesman at the national agency, said by phone.
“The numbers may be different because information is coming in remotely at different times,” Mujiharto said today by phone in Jakarta.
The 7.5-magnitude temblor struck the Kepulauan Mentawai region of Indonesia, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Padang, the provincial capital of West Sumatra, and 640 kilometers from Singapore at 9:42 p.m. local time Oct. 25, the US Geological Survey said. The quake triggered a 3-meter (10- foot) tsunami that that reached 400 meters inland, the agency said yesterday.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in the same area in October 2009 left more than 1,000 people dead in Padang, many of whom were buried in mudslides and the rubble of collapses buildings. Less than a month earlier, a magnitude-7 temblor south of Java on Sept. 2 left 82 people dead.
A tsunami generated by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off northern Sumatra in December 2004 left about 220,000 people dead or missing in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean.