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Tsunami Toll Rises to 547

July 21, 2006|From the Associated Press

PANGANDARAN, Indonesia — The death toll from the Indonesian tsunami rose to 547 today, hours after the president vowed to install a nationwide system capable of warning coastal communities by mid-2008.

"We want to expedite efforts to get infrastructure for the tsunami warning system," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said late Thursday. "I will work with parliament to get the budget."

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake Monday triggered waves that smashed into a 110-mile stretch of Java's southern coast, destroying scores of houses, restaurants and hotels. Cars, motorbikes and boats were left mangled amid fishing nets, furniture and other debris.

Indonesia's national disaster coordinating board said 323 people were still missing.

Yudhoyono met three Swedish survivors of the disaster before flying here to the worst-hit resort town of Pangandaran to visit some of the homeless.

Workers dug corpses from ruined homes and hotels here Thursday, and a mass burial was conducted.

Hundreds of people watched as unidentified corpses were lowered into the mass grave. The bodies were photographed and tagged in case relatives later wanted to claim them.

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