A resident inspects his house damaged by a tsunami, in Sumur village, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 24, 2018. The tsunami apparently caused by the eruption of an island volcano killed a number of people around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, sending a wall of water crashing some 65 feet (20 meters) inland and sweeping away hundreds of houses including hotels, the government and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Indonesia searches for tsunami victims; death toll hits 373

More than 1,400 people were injured in Saturday’s tsunami

Efforts to collect hundreds of bodies and save the injured were stepped up in Indonesia on Monday following the country’s latest tsunami, as scientists collected evidence on how a volcanic eruption triggered the weekend tragedy.

Casualty figures from Saturday night’s disaster continued to rise, with at least 373 people confirmed dead and more than 1,400 injured. The death toll was certain to rise further, with 128 people still missing from the affected areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, where hundreds of military personnel and volunteers were conducting their grim search along debris-strewn beaches.

READ MORE: Tsunami set off by volcano sweeps Indonesia coast

Where victims were found, yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

The waves that swept locals and tourists into the sea along the Sunda Strait followed an eruption and apparent landslide on Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Krakatoa,” one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands.

Hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged by the waves. Broken chunks of concrete and splintered sticks of wood littered hard-hit coastal areas, turning popular beach areas into near ghost towns. Debris from thatch-bamboo shacks was strewn along the coast.

This aerial shot taken on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, shows volcanic material spew from the crater of Mount Anak Krakatau as it erupts on Java Strait, Indonesia. Doctors worked to save injured victims while hundreds of military and volunteers scoured debris-strewn beaches in search of survivors Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, after a deadly tsunami that followed an eruption and apparent landslide the volcano, one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands, gushed ashore without warning on Indonesian islands, killing hundreds of people on a busy holiday weekend. (Nurul Hidayat/Bisnis Indonesia via AP)

The Indonesian Medical Association of the worst-affected Banten region said that it sent doctors, medical supplies and equipment, and that many of the injured were in need of orthopedic and neurological surgery. It said most victims are domestic tourists who were visiting beaches during the long weekend ahead of Christmas.

It was the second deadly tsunami to hit seismically active Indonesia this year. A powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Sulawesi island in September, giving residents a brief warning before the waves struck.

On Saturday night, however, the ground did not shake to alert people before the waves ripped buildings from their foundations and swept terrified concertgoers celebrating on a resort beach into the sea.

“I heard people shouting to run away and I saw the water had gone up to the mainland and the hotel had been flooded by water,” said witness Feri Ardian. “About 200 people were dragged away by the waves.”

Dramatic video posted on social media showed the Indonesian pop band Seventeen performing in a tent on Tanjung Lesung beach at a concert for employees of the state-owned electricity company. A wave smashed through the makeshift stage, tossing the band and its equipment into the audience.

Seventeen’s bass player, guitarist, drummer, road manager and technician were all killed. The lead singer, Riefian Fajarsyah, survived, but his wife, who was also a backup singer, remains missing.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who faces what promises to be a tough re-election campaign next year, responded Monday to the lack of any warning of the disaster with a vow to have all equipment used for detection of tsunamis replaced or repaired.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia Disaster Mitigation Agency, acknowledged on Twitter that the country’s network of detection buoys had been dysfunctional since 2012, due to vandalism and budget shortfalls.

But the head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said Monday that the tsunami was caused by Krakatau’s volcanic activity, so could not have been picked up by her agency’s sensors, which monitor the conventional tectonic earthquakes that are responsible for more than 90 per cent of Indonesia’s tsunamis.

With Anak Krakatau still erupting, she warned people to avoid activities around coastal areas in the coming days.

The president told journalists after arriving by helicopter in the disaster region that he has ordered the Social Ministry to give compensation to the families of the dead as quickly as possible. He praised the army and police, along with local government officials, for their work in evacuating shorefront areas, which are still considered a danger zone.

Scientists, including those from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency, said the tsunami could have been caused by landslides — either above ground or underwater — on the steep slope of the erupting volcano. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.

Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Center Indonesia, said the tsunami was likely caused by a flank collapse — when a big section of a volcano’s slope gives way. It’s possible for an eruption to trigger a landslide above ground or beneath the ocean, both capable of producing waves, he said.

The 305-meter (1,000-foot) -high Anak Krakatau lies on an island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, linking the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea. It has been erupting since June and did so again about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

VIDEO: 7.0-magnitude earthquake hits Alaska

The volcanic island formed over years after the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, one of the largest, most devastating in recorded history. That disaster killed more than 30,000 people, launched far-reaching tsunamis and created so much ash that day was turned to night in the area and a global temperature drop was recorded.

Most of the island sank into a volcanic crater under the sea, and the area remained calm until the 1920s, when Anak Krakatau began to rise from the site. It continues to grow each year and erupts periodically.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and home to 260 million people, lies along the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas, making access difficult in the best of conditions.

A powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people in August. The tsunami and earthquake that hit Sulawesi in September killed more than 2,100, while thousands more are believed to still be buried in neighbourhoods swallowed by a quake phenomenon known as liquefaction.

Saturday’s tsunami also rekindled memories of the massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake that hit Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004. It spawned a giant tsunami off Sumatra island, killing more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries — the majority in Indonesia.

___

Associated Press writers Margie Mason and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

Niniek Karmini, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Speed carving event on Friday and Saturday in Memorial Park

Organizers are keeping event small, physically distanced and stocked with sanitizer

Mission man who nearly died from COVID-19 at Abbotsford hospital reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Lavender hand sanitizer sale raises cash for Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Golf course and lavender farm partner up to support health care in the Fraser Valley

UBC soccer star Victory Shumbusho offers one-on-one training for Chilliwack players

The Chilliwack FC grad believes players need more training to reach higher levels of soccer

Wings and Wheels fundraiser ready to roll in Abbotsford this weekend

Unique collection of cars invading Tradex for drive-thru experiences on Saturday and Sunday

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

35,000 doses of fentanyl part of huge Maple Ridge bust

Largest seizure in RCMP detachment’s history included submachine gun, body armour

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read