Tsunami Strikes Mentawais

Image: Google Maps
Image: Google Maps

According to multiple international news agencies a tsunami has struck the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia. The wave was spawned by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that rattled the West Coast of Indonesia at approximately 9:42 pm yesterday.

Both the Sydney Morning Herald and Australia's ABC News are reporting that a group of Australian surfers onboard a pair of charter boats—the Midas and Freedom—were anchored near Macaronis and were forced to abandon ship after the boats became unanchored by the tsunami and crashed into one another, resulting in a subsequent explosion and fire to one of the boats.

In a harrowing quote published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Rick Hallett, who has been captaining the Midas since the start of the 2009 season, described the events surrounding the tsunami.

“It was night time around about 10 pm," said Hallett, "and a two to three meter wall of white water came into the bay and there was another boat anchored out the side of us…the wave picked that boat up and brought it towards us and ran straight into us and our boat exploded, caught on fire, we had a fireball on the back deck and right through the saloon within seconds.”

According to Hallett, the group of surfers had been relaxing on the back deck when the tsunami hit, sending the Freedom hurling towards the Midas. “I ordered everyone up to the top deck to get as high as possible, then the boat exploded and we had to abandon ship…we threw whatever we could that floated—surfboards, fenders—then we jumped into the water."

Hallett went on to state that some of the people on board his boat were swept an estimated 200 meters inland by the tsunami and stayed in trees until they were rescued by another boat.

“We stayed up in the trees until we felt there was no more risk of waves or big surges coming through,” Hallett added.

Remarkably, all 15 people on the boat are alive and  have been accounted for.

It is not immediately known what effect the tsunami had on the villages in the nearby islands.

This is a developing story and we'll continue to bring you updates as they become available.