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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Indonesian earthquake death toll surpasses 1,500

Indonesian earthquake death toll surpasses 1,500

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.

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