Wave rumors spark panic

PANGANDARAN, Indonesia – – Rumors of another killer wave sparked mass panic Wednesday in the town hardest hit by the Indonesian tsunami, and amateur video that captured some of the horror of the disaster surfaced. The death toll rose to 531, with more than 270 missing.

The video shows children playing in the surf and building sandcastles followed by brief footage of a wall of black water bearing down on the beach in Pangandaran. The camera person then runs away amid screams.

The tsunami was triggered by a magnitude 7.7 undersea earthquake and smashed into a 110-mile stretch of Java island’s coastline, which was unaffected by the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami.

The waves, more than 6 feet high, reached 200 yards inland in some places, destroying scores of houses, restaurants and hotels. Cars, motorbikes and boats were left mangled in fishing nets, furniture and other debris.

It was unclear how Wednesday’s rumor of another tsunami spread, but it caused mass panic among the town’s traumatized residents. More than 1,000 people ran from the beach area or jumped on bikes or in cars and headed inland amid shouts of “The water is coming!”