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JAKARTA, Indonesia (July 29, 1998 - The National)--- Fishermen in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, have spotted some 200 bodies believed to be victims of the tsunami that smashed into neighboring West Sepik province earlier this month, a news report said yesterday.

The floating bodies were found by fishermen from Skouw Mabo and Skouw Sae villages near the Irian Jaya capital of Jayapura, the official Antara news agency said.

Frightened by the sight, the fishermen left the bodies off the border area between Indonesia's Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea, and stopped fishing in the area, Antara said.

Meanwhile, authorities in the disaster area have dropped plans to destroy the lagoon where the bodies of thousands of people still lie, as it is considered sacred by survivors, officials said.

The decision came as an international team of doctors began winding down its operations in Vanimo, airlifting 24 survivors and their relatives to a government-run hospital in nearby Wewak.

Less than 50 patients remained at the international field hospital in Vanimo yesterday and officials said the operation was likely to be shut down soon.

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