Tsunami Kills 40 in Western Indonesia

A 10-foot-high tsunami triggered by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit the western part of Indonesia late Monday, killing at least 40 people and leaving more than 300 others missing, reports said.

The tsunami, which smashed into the surfing haven Mentawai islands, also destroyed hundreds of houses on the islands of Pagai and Silabu. Officials said the death toll could rise as soon as the real extent of the damage is known.

Disaster management agency official Ade Edward said the hardest-hit among the islands of Mentawai was Pagai, where most of the 23 confirmed deaths occurred, while nine Australians, a Japanese, and crew from several ships are among those who have been declared missing. Ade said some 3,000 people have been evacuated and are now temporarily living in emergency shelters.

Meanwhile, other reports claimed that the death toll has risen to at least 84 with the missing now pegged at more than 500

The earthquake reportedly struck the same fault that triggered the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in several countries in 2004.