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Indonesia tsunami kills 23, leaves scores missing

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By Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A powerful, 7.7-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that pounded villages on remote islands off western Indonesia, killing at least 23 people and leaving more than 160 others missing, witnesses and officials said Tuesday.

The fault that ruptured Monday, running the length of the west coast of Sumatra island, also caused the 9.1-magnitude quake that unleashed a monster tsunami around the Indian Ocean in 2004, killing 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

The death toll from the quake late Monday, which struck 13 miles (20 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor, was expected to climb as reports on damage and injuries began trickling in Tuesday.

Mujiharto, who heads the Health Ministry's crisis center, said a 10-foot (three-meter) -high wave washed away hundreds of houses on Pagai and Silabu, part of the remote and sparsely populated Mentawai island chain.

"We have 200 body bags on the way, just in case," he said.

Separately on Tuesday, emergency officials were rushing to evacuate several thousand residents from the slopes of the country's most volatile volcano, Mount Merapi, as scientists warned that pressure building beneath its lava dome could trigger one of the most powerful blasts in years.


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