MAUMERE, Indonesia (AP) - Thousands of homeless families stretched tarps between
trees to create makeshift shelters near their destroyed houses last month as the
estimated death toll from a powerful earthquake here Dec. 12 rose above 1,500.
Officials said at least 1,584 people died, many of them in Maumere, on the Indonesian
island of Flores, and on two small islands that were swept by seismic waves triggered
by the quake.
A government spokesman said 25-meter seismic waves, called tsunami, virtually wiped
out fishing villages on the two islands.
Jose Mongi, a survivor from one of the islands, Pulau Bali, said 900 people there
were feared dead.
"We could not flee to the island of Flores by boat because of the big waves
coming at us, but we also could not run to the mountain for fear of landslides caused
by the quake," he said.
More than 200 bodies washed ashore in Lanatutu village in eastern Flores.
Hundreds of injured were being treated outdoors as hospitals and clinics overflowed.
At one hospital, 57 of 180 people who were admitted had died as of Dec. 14.
Officials warned residents of this coastal town of 40,000 people not to re-enter
their homes because of unsafe conditions.
The quake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale, according to Indonesian officials.