12/29/2004, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Java and Bali fear another tsunami

SMS message arrives from Meulaboth (West Sumatra) saying that only 20 per cent of the city is still "alive".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – People in Java and Bali are afraid that another tsunami might hit their islands. In the meantime, Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla warns that the death toll from Sunday's underwater quake might reach 40,000.

Residents of the cities of Tasikmalaya and Pangandaran, in West Java's tourist region, and fishermen in Nusa Penida on the island of Bali are afraid that should new earthquakes and aftershocks occur they might experience another tsunami similar to that of December 26 which, according to some estimates, killed more than 60,000 throughout south Asia.

"We are very concerned about a possible attack," says Dewa Ketut Sujana, a Nusa Penida resident who can still remember the 1992 underwater quake which destroyed Maumere, the capital of the island of Flores (eastern Indonesia), by 90 per cent.

According to Vice-President Kalla, the death toll stands at around 30,000 but is bound to rise as time goes by. "The number of dead could reach 40,000," he said, "since many areas on Sumatra's western coast still cannot be reached".

The first news from Meulaboh (West Sumatra), a city that is still cut off from the rest of the country, arrived via SMS saying that only 20 per cent of the city was still "alive".

On December 26, an earthquake centred in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra's western coast provoked a tsunami whose waves caused death and destruction in a 6,000 km (4,000 miles) radius affecting nine countries, namely Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Somalia and Bangladesh. (MH)

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