Indonesia tsunami kills 23, leaves scores missing

The death toll from the 7.7-magnitude quake, which struck 13 miles (20 kilometres) beneath the ocean floor late yesterday, was expected to climb with reports about damage and injuries just starting to trickle in the next day.

Mujiharto, who heads the Health Ministry's crisis centre, 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.Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

The fault that ruptured yesterday, 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.

Getting to the Mentawais, a popular surfing spot 175 miles (280 kilometres) from the Sumatra coast takes 12 hours and the islands are reachable only by boat

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