137 dead as Indonesia hit by tsunami, volcano

JAKARTA, October 27, 2010 (AFP) – At least 112 people were killed and hundreds remained missing in Indonesia Wednesday after a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake smashed into a remote island chain, washing away entire villages. Another 25 people have been killed after the eruption of the country’s most active volcano, as the force of nature was unleashed in an area known as the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.

The 7.7-magnitude quake struck late Monday in the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra generating waves as high as three metres (10 feet) that one official said had swept away 10 villages in one of the world’s top surfing spots.

“At least 112 people were killed and 502 people have gone missing,” West Sumatra disaster management head Harmensyah said Wednesday.

Less than 24 hours after the tsunami struck, Mount Merapi erupted on the island of Java, causing thousands to flee in panic as it spewed searing clouds of ash and claiming the lives of at least 25 people, including a baby.

“We heard three explosions around 6 pm (1100 GMT) spewing volcanic material as high as 1.5 kilometres (one mile) and sending heat clouds down the slopes,” government volcanologist Surono told AFP.

Indonesia sits on a “ring of fire”,