JAKARTA, Indonesia — Storms and high waves continued to hamper the delivery of aid relief to tsunami survivors on Indonesia's Mentawai islands Saturday, but rescuers scored one victory when they found alive 135 people who had been missing.
The number of missing people has now been revised down to 163, according to Surya, an official at the Regional Disaster Management Agency in the West Sumatra capital of Padang, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
The confirmed death toll from Monday's tsunami and 7.7-magnitude earthquake stood at 414, said the head of the agency, Ade Edward. More than 400 people were also reported injured.
Citing the country's Meteorology, Geology and Climatology Agency, Edward said storms and waves as high as 20 feet were expected to last for the next three days, further hampering aid from reaching some areas in the Mentawai chain.
"We cannot do anything except just waiting for better weather," Edward said, adding that bad weather was also preventing helicopters from air-dropping supplies.
In an incident that underscored the peril, a boat carrying 15 aid workers capsized off the Mentawai islands on Saturday, Surya said. Ten people were rescued. The other five are missing, he said.
Media reports said heavy rains and strong winds had prevented volunteers and rescue teams from reaching remote areas by small boat, their only means of transport, effectively halting aid distribution.
Also Saturday, clouds of gray ash rumbled down the slopes of Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most volatile volcano, in its most powerful eruption of a deadly week, prompting soldiers to force reluctant villagers to evacuate amid fears of a larger blast, the Associated Press reported.
Mount Merapi, which sprang back to life early last week, unleashed a 21-minute eruption early Saturday, followed by more than 350 volcanic tremors and 33 ash bursts, said Surono, chief of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation.