JAKARTA - A POWERFUL earthquake triggered a 3m-high tsunami that pounded remote island villages in western Indonesia, killing at least 113 people and leaving up to 500 missing, an official said yesterday.

A group of foreigners - nine Australians and a Japanese - in an area popular with surfers were reported missing earlier yesterday. But they were found late last night, unharmed.

The magnitude 7.7 earthquake, which struck in the Mentawai Islands area west of Padang on Sumatra late on Monday, swept away 10 villages, officials said.

Casualty numbers and reports of damage are likely to climb once rescuers reach the affected areas. But strong winds and rough sea conditions are hampering the rescue effort.

The quake, which created a panic in the Sumatran town of Padang, occurred along the same fault that ruptured in 2004, triggering the monster Indian Ocean tsunami which killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Water from Monday's tsunami advanced as far as 600m inland in some places, causing damage in the North and South Pagai Islands and surrounding islets, said Mr Mudjiharto, head of the Indonesian Health Ministry's crisis centre.

Tsunami kills 113