Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Search for Australians after killer tsunami hits

A search was continuing last night for nine Australian surfers missing since an earthquake triggered a deadly tsunami in Indonesia's west as survivors revealed how they were washed inland by rising seas.
The 7.7-magnitude undersea quake struck at a depth of about 20km near the Mentawai Islands about 10pm on Monday, generating a massive wave that swept ashore, killing at least 23 villagers and washing away entire villages.

More than 200 villagers are missing from the sparsely populated island chain west of Sumatra.

The villages of Malakopak and Sinakak on the island of South Pagai are believed to be among the hardest hit. Bad weather was hampering rescue efforts.

The area is 240km west of Bengkulu on Sumatra island and 280km south of Padang an area popular with tourists.

Nine Australians and a Japanese man were believed to have been in the area aboard surf charter boat MV Southern Cross. They had failed to make contact.

The traditional wooden boat is skippered by Australian man Chris Scurrah and Japanese man Akinori Fujita.

Among those aboard is a former NSW MP, Alex McTaggart, who flew out on Sunday for a surfing holiday with seven friends. The others are Clifford Humphries, Gary Mountford, Chris Papallo, Neil Cox, Jeff Annesley, Stephen Reynolds and Colin Steell.

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