Indonesia Tsunami death toll tops 400 as stunning photos emerge

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on December 25th, 2018

Jakarta, Indonesia: The death toll from the Indonesian tsunami has reached 400, as astonishing pictures emerge of the eruption that triggered the disaster. The images were taken on Sunday, hours after the eruption.

Indonesian military and rescue teams are still working along the coastline, hoping to find survivors of the tsunami which was triggered by a submarine landslide from a volcano between Java and Sumatra, about 9pm on Saturday.

Early on Christmas Day, the death toll from the disaster had reached at least 373 people, with thousands more injured.

Thick clouds of ash spewed from Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island where a crater collapse at high tide late on Saturday set off waves that smashed into coastal areas on both sides of the Sunda Strait between the islands of Sumatra and Java.

The operation continued as new photos emerged of the aftermath of the eruption.

The images, posted to Twitter by National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, were taken on Sunday and show magma flowing into the sea and a large ash cloud from Anak Krakatoa volcano.

Rescuers used heavy machinery and bare hands to dig bodies out of mud and wreckage along a 100-kilometre stretch of Java’s west coast.

More than 1400 people were injured, and about 12,000 residents have moved to higher ground, with a high-tide warning extended to Wednesday.

The vast archipelago, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.

Erupsi Gunung Anak Krakatau yang terpantau dari pesawat Grand Caravan Susi Air pada 23/12/2018. Hampir setiap hari Gunung Anak Krakatau erupsi sejak Juni 2018. Erupsinya tidak besar. Status Waspada (level 2). Zona berbahaya di dalam radius 2 km. Jalur pelayaran di aman. — Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN) December 24, 2018

Earthquakes flattened parts of the island of Lombok in July and August, and a double quake-and-tsunami killed more than 2000 people on a remote part of Sulawesi island in September.

“At least 373 people have died, while 128 people are currently missing,” Mr Nugroho said Monday evening (local time).

Saturday’s tsunami destroyed more than 700 buildings, from small shops and houses to villas and hotels. It took just 24 minutes after the landslide for waves to hit land, and there was no early warning for those living on the coast.

Kondisi bangunan yang banyak rusak akibat terjangan tsunami di daerah Sumur Kabupaten Pandeglang. Petugas dan kendaraan evakuasi sudah bisa menembus daerah Sumur. Sebelumnya beberapa jalan dan jembatan rusak. Alat berat dikerahkan untuk membantu evakuasi korban. — Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN) December 24, 2018

Out in the strait, Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was still erupting on Sunday night, belching white smoke and ash into the sky.

The meteorology agency reported that an area of about 64 hectares of the volcanic island had collapsed into the sea.

In 1883, the volcano, then known as Krakatoa erupted in one of the biggest blasts in recorded history, killing more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunami, and lowering the global surface temperature by 1 degree Celsius with its ash. Anak Krakatau is the island that emerged from the area in 1927, and has been growing ever since.

The high waves isolated hundreds of people on Sebesi island, about 12 kilometres from the volcano.

President Joko Widodo, who is running for re-election in April, told disaster agencies to install early warning systems, but experts said that, unlike with tsunami caused by earthquakes, little could have been done to alert people that waves were coming.

Excavators were being used to move debris including piles of steel roofing tangled like spaghetti. Medics were sent in with the military, while groups of police and soldiers reached remote areas.

One team used sniffer dogs to search for survivors at the beach club where a tsunami washed away an outdoor stage where the Indonesian rock band Seventeen were performing at a party for about 200 guests. They had already pulled out nine bodies that day.

At a village 20 km away, district chief Atmadja Suhara said he was helping to care for 4,000 refugees, many of them now homeless.

“Everybody is still in a state of panic,” he said. “We often have disasters, but not as bad as this.”

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