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Hundreds Dead As Indonesian Rescue Workers Search For Tsunami Survivors


Officials look through the wreckage of damaged buildings in Carita, Indonesia, on December 23.

Rescue workers in Indonesia have been searching for survivors of a tsunami likely triggered by a volcano as the death toll in the December 22 disaster rose to 429 people with more than 1,400 people injured. At least 128 people were missing, Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said.

Military troops, government personnel, and volunteers were searching along debris-strewn beaches on December 25.

Where victims were found, body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

The disaster mitigation agency said on December 24 that the casualty totals were expected to rise.

"It is suspected that some victims are still trapped under wreckage and materials washed away by the tsunami,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.

At least 128 people were reported missing as crews battled heavy rains in the rescue efforts.

Hundreds of homes, hotels, and other buildings were washed away by the massive wave that hit the coast of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java.

Nugroho added that more than 11,600 people were displaced by the tsunami, which many experts say may have been caused by undersea landslides triggered by eruptions of the Mount Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra.

Around 13 percent of the world's volcanoes are in Indonesia alone.

"The military and police are searching the ruins to see if we can find more victims," said Dody Ruswandi, a senior disaster agency official.

The rescue effort is expected to last at least a week, officials said.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and home to 260 million people, lies along the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

A quake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island in September killed over 2,100 people, with thousands more believed swallowed up by the earth.

A magnitude-9.1 earthquake struck Indonesia on December 26, 2004, creating a huge tsunami off Sumatra island and killing over 230,000 people in a dozen countries across south and southeast Asia.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa
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