Tsunamis Kill 28 in Malaysia

At least 28 people, including foreign tourists, were killed Sunday after being swept away by tidal waves (search) on a Malaysian resort island and in other areas, government officials and police said.

Many of the victims drowned while swimming and riding jet skis near beaches on Penang island in northwestern Malaysia, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak (search) told a news conference. Others died on the mainland state of Kedah.

At least 111 others received treatment for injuries, while dozens were reported missing.

"This is a disaster that our country has never faced before in history," Najib said.

More than 1,000 homes across numerous fishing villages were destroyed as waves roared into the coastline, leaving hundreds of families homeless, disaster officials said.

"I have ordered precautionary measures to shift people to safer areas," Najib said. "It is possible there might be more tidal waves. We should be ready if there is another round."

Waves as high as five meters (16 feet) hit Penang and several other Malaysian islands following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake earlier Sunday near Indonesia's Sumatra island, said Low Kong Chiew, director of the state-run Seismological Division.

A narrow strait separates peninsular Malaysia's western coast from Sumatra.

Officials received reports that some vessels capsized at sea, Low said. Flash floods hit popular beach resorts packed with Western and local tourists celebrating the Christmas weekend.

The casualties included an an unknown number of foreigners, but their nationalities and identities were not immediately clear, police officials said on condition of anonymity.

Several usually crowded beaches were sealed off to the public, witnesses said.

Tens of thousands of people were temporarily evacuated from high-rise hotels and apartments in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and other cities after most of peninsular Malaysia felt tremors caused by the Indonesian quake.

Workers checked buildings for cracks, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.