Death toll from Indonesian tsunami reaches 463

7.7- magnitude quake hit islands Monday, triggering two-meter-high wave of water.

tsunami 88 ap (photo credit: )
tsunami 88 ap
(photo credit: )
Tearful parents searched Tuesday for missing children and soldiers dug through the debris of homes flattened by the second tsunami to hit Indonesia in as many years. At least 463 people were killed, officials said, with more missing. The area hit by Monday's disaster was spared by the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami, and many residents said they did not even feel the 7.7-magnitude undersea quake that unleashed the two-meter-high wall of water. But some recognized the danger when they saw the sea recede and fled to higher ground, screaming "Tsunami! Tsunami!" A black wave shot to shore a half hour later, witnesses said, sending boats, cars and motorbikes crashing into resorts and fishing villages. The water reached 300 meters inland. The death toll rose to at least 463, officials said, with the numbers expected to grow. "We are still finding many bodies, many are stuck in the ruins of the houses," said local police chief Syamsuddin Janieb, who said at least 172 people were killed and 85 others were missing in the Panganderan area alone. A Pakistani national, a Swedish national and a Dutch national were among the dead, he said, but did not give their genders. A French woman hospitalized with injuries said her boyfriend was missing. At least 23,000 people fled their homes, either because they were destroyed or in fear of another tsunami, so accounting for the 160 missing could take time, other officials said Tuesday. Survivors, meanwhile, recounted their tales of horror. Roads were blocked and power cut to much of the area. Indonesia was hardest hit by a 2004 tsunami that killed at least 216,000 people in a dozen nations along the Indian Ocean rim - more than a half of them on Sumatra island's Aceh province. Though the country started to install an early warning system after that disaster, it is still in the early stages, covering only Sumatra. The government had been planning to extend the warning system to Java by 2007. The island was hit seven weeks ago by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 5,800 people, though the 180 kilometers of coastline hit by Monday's tsunami was not affected by that temblor. Monday's quake struck at 3:24 p.m. around 240 kilometers beneath the ocean floor, causing tall buildings to sway hundreds of kilometers away in the capital, Jakarta. The region has been rattled by a series of strong aftershocks. After the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Japan's Meteorological Agency issued warnings of a possible tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The tsunami struck Java about an hour later and its effects could be felt as far as Bali island and near Australia's Coco Islands. In addition to the 172 deaths tallied in Panganderan, central Java police chief Dody Sumantiawan said at least 77 people were killed and more than 70 others missing in nearby Cilacap district.