Death toll mounts as rescuers survey Indonesia tsunami damage

by Kim Boateng Posted on December 23rd, 2018

Jakarta, Indonesia : The death toll from the Indonesian tsunami triggered by volcanic eruptions has hit at least 222, with over 1000 others injured.

In a sign that danger is still at hand in the hardest-hit Sunda Strait, Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho urged residents to stay away from the coast for at least 24 hours as there is potential for another tsunami.

There are high tide warnings in place until Monday.

Meteorological agency head Rahmat Triyono urged Sunda Strait residents to avert the danger.

“Please do not be around the beaches around the Sunda Strait. Those who have evacuated, please do not return yet,” Mr Triyono said.

Beaches in the Pandenglang District, South Lampung and Serang in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra were the worst affected, with Indonesia news websites described people running in fear from five-metre waves after the tsunami hit at 9.27pm on Saturday.

Many of the dead were thought to be tourists, many from Jakarta.

Dozens of buildings were damaged, Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said, adding that the death toll is likely to grow.

# The #tsunami in the Sunda Strait was allegedly due to the #krakatau mountain avalanche last night pic.twitter.com/nwYlNw5YLk

— Syariefwae (@Syarief38194795) December 22, 2018

Another 30 people were still unaccounted for, with access to affected areas still difficult.

The Disaster Mitigation Agency said the tsunami was possibly caused by landslides from the Mount Anak Krakatau volcano and tidal waves due to the full moon.

“The two combinations caused a sudden tsunami that hit the coast,” the agency said.

Norwegian volcano photographer Oystein Andersen was on the beach taking photos of the volcano after the earlier eruptions when the waves came.

“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m inland,” Andersen wrote on Facebook.

“Next wave entered the hotel area where i was staying and downed cars on the road behind it. Managed to evacuate with my family to higher ground trough forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of (by) the locals. Were unharmed, thankfully.”

Videos posted on social media showed flooded streets, an overturned car and people running up stairs to escape the waves.

The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in the world, killing more than 36,000 people.

Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa, emerged in 1927 from that caldera and has been recently erupting.

The tsunami triggered memories for some of the 9.1-magnitude earthquake that struck a dozen countries on December 26, 2004.

It spawned a giant tsunami off Sumatra island in western Indonesia, killing more than 230,000 people.

The Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre (PVMBG) notes that there are 20 volcanoes with above-normal levels of activity across the country.

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