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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Eyewitness: 'We're living in caves'
As the death toll of the Java tsunami increases, the BBC News website spoke to Elan Jayalani who lives in the small coastal community of Batukaras.

He described the moment the tsunami hit and the ensuing chaos as villagers fled to the mountains in fear.


Army search for bodies
Elan Jayalani says Batukaras has received little help
I am one of the lucky ones. I saw enormous waves engulf our beach and sweep away cars and boats.

But I had been surfing just moments earlier. I walked back from the beach onto a small rocky hill when massive swells of water suddenly came in.

It was the second wave which was most damaging. I saw it submerge our beachfront, including all the shops which sell clothing and tourist items.

I heard the most amazing sound as the waves slammed into the cliffs.

I started running away towards the hills. Minutes later the water circled around me. I didn't know what to do.

As I ran away, I looked back and saw what was happening. A couple of large boats were running their engine as hard as possible to try and defeat the waves, but the boats sank.

Terrible damage

All the hotels in Batukaras were damaged. Three hundred boats were broken into pieces.

This morning, I went back down to the beach with local fishermen leaders and we found ten bodies tangled up in nets.

We're living in caves with no water, little food and shelter
They must have been on the beach fishing and they would not have realised that such a huge wave could come in just a few seconds. They wouldn't even have had time to turn.

The warning said that the tsunami would come in a couple of days. There was so much confusion.

Living in the jungle

Our village is deserted now. All the villagers have fled to the jungle in the mountains.

We're living in caves with no water, little food and shelter. There is no electricity in the area.

Fear is the over-riding emotion. We need tents and lighting, especially for the children among us. There are many mosquitoes in the jungle and it just isn't safe.

Many people among us are wounded.

Map of West Java
The other problem for us is that most of the villagers are constantly moving about, they don't stay in the same place. It's hard to find them and help them.

We get very little news from the outside world, except I do know that hundreds have died further down the coast.

In some ways, we are lucky. We are protected by high cliffs and rocks. I know that Pangandaran is flat and exposed.

There is more suffering elsewhere, but we have had little help from the authorities. And we really do need help.





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