Tsunami set off by volcanic eruption kills 222, injures 843

Latest: A tsunami believed to be triggered by a volcanic eruption has killed at least 222 people in Indonesia during a busy holiday weekend, sweeping away hotels, hundreds of houses and a group of people attending a beach concert.

More than 800 people were reported injured after the tsunami hit around the Sunda Strait at 9.27pm on Saturday, the Disaster Management Agency said.

At least 28 others were missing, but the toll could continue to rise because some areas had not yet been reached.

Scientists including those from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency said the tsunami could have been caused by undersea landslides or those occurring above sea level on the Anak Krakatau volcano’s steep outside slope following the eruption.

The volcano’s name translates to “Child of Krakatoa”, a volcanic island formed over years after one of the largest eruptions in recorded history occurred at the Krakatoa volcano more than a century ago. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.

Dramatic video posted on social media showed an Indonesian pop band named “Seventeen” performing under a tent on a popular beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company.

Dozens of people sat listening at tables covered in white cloths while others bobbed to the music near the stage as bright strobe lights flashed and theatrical smoke was released.

A child could also be seen wandering through the crowd. Seconds later, with the drummer pounding just as the next song was about to begin, the stage suddenly heaved forward and buckled under the force of the water, throwing the band and all their equipment into the audience.

The group released a statement saying their bass player, guitarist and road manager were found dead, while two other band members and the wife of one of the performers remained missing.

“The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, when the current receded our members are unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>(PA Graphics)</figcaption>
(PA Graphics)

Tourists were also affected during the long holiday weekend ahead of Christmas.

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

The self-described photographer and volcano enthusiast said he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw a big wave come toward him.

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

The Anak Krakatau volcano lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, linking the Indian Ocean and Java Sea. It erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

The worst-affected area was the Pandeglang region of Java’s Banten province, which encompasses Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the disaster agency said.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 222 deaths had been confirmed and at least 843 people were injured. Rescue workers were still trying to access other affected areas.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.

“My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lumpung provinces,” he said. “Hopefully, those who are left have patience.”

In the city of Bandar Lampung on Sumatra, hundreds of residents took refuge at the governor’s office. At the popular resort area of Carita Beach, some survivors appeared lost.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Indonesian rescuers search for the bodies of tsunami victims in Carita (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)</figcaption>
Indonesian rescuers search for the bodies of tsunami victims in Carita (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)

Azki Kurniawan, 16, said he was undergoing vocational training with a group of 30 other students at Patra Comfort Hotel when people suddenly burst into the lobby yelling “Sea water rising!”.

He said he was confused because he did not feel an earthquake, but ran to the parking lot to try to reach his motorbike. By the time he got there, it was already flooded.

“Suddenly a one-meter wave hit me,” he said. “I fell down, the water separated me from my bike. I was thrown into the fence of a building about 30 meters from the beach and held onto the fence as strong as I could, trying to resist the water, which feels like it would drag me back into the sea. I cried in fear. … ‘This is a tsunami?’ I was afraid I would die.”

The 305-metre-high Anak Krakatau volcano, located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, has been erupting since June. In July, authorities widened its no-go areas to two kilometres from the crater.

However, Anak Krakatau remains much smaller than Krakatoa when it blew in 1883, killing more than 30,000 people.

Krakatoa launched far-reaching tsunamis and created so much ash, day was turned to night in the area and a global temperature drop was recorded.

The violent explosions sank most of the island into the 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.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>(PA Graphics)</figcaption>
(PA Graphics)

Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Center Indonesia, said Saturday’s tsunami was likely caused by a flank collapse — when a big section of a volcano’s slope gives way.

He said it is possible for an eruption to trigger a landslide above ground or beneath the ocean, both capable of producing waves.

“Actually, the tsunami was not really big, only one meter,” said Mr Prasetya, who has closely studied Krakatoa. “The problem is people always tend to build everything close to the shoreline.”

Nine hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged. Broken chunks of concrete and splintered sticks of wood littered hard-hit coastal areas, turning beach getaways popular with Jakarta residents into near ghost towns.

Vehicles tossed by the waves remained belly up in the rubble or were lodged in the air under collapsed roofs. Debris from thatch-bamboo shacks was strewn along beaches.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Debris littered a property badly damaged by the tsunami (Fauzy Chaniago/AP)</figcaption>
Debris littered a property badly damaged by the tsunami (Fauzy Chaniago/AP)

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.

In September, more than 2,500 people were killed by a quake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, which is just east of Borneo.

Saturday’s tsunami rekindled memories for some of the massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake that hit on Dec. 26, 2004.

It spawned a giant tsunami off Sumatra island in western Indonesia, killing more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries — the majority in Indonesia.

Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas of disaster-prone Indonesia, making access difficult in the best of conditions.

- Press Association

Indonesia tsunami death toll rises to 222, with 843 injured

Latest: The death toll in the Indonesia tsunami has risen to 222, with 843 injured and 28 missing, the country's disaster agency has said.

Earlier: A tsunami apparently caused by the eruption of an island volcano has killed at least 168 people around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait.

Some 745 people have been reported injured and 30 missing when the tsunami hit on Saturday evening, sending a wall of water some 65ft inland and damaging hundreds of houses including hotels.

Scientists from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency said it could have been caused by undersea landslides from the eruption of Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island formed over years from the nearby Krakatau volcano.

They also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.

Footage posted on social media showed a pop band named Seventeen performing under a tent on a beach as dozens of people sat listening at tables covered in white cloths.

As bright strobe lights flashed on stage, a child could be seen wandering through the crowd. Then, in between songs with the drummer pounding, the stage suddenly heaved forward, throwing the band and all their equipment into the audience.

The band released a statement saying their bass player and road manager were found dead, while four other members of their group remained missing.

“The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site,” it said.

“Unfortunately, when the current receded our members are unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on.”

Tourists were also affected during the holiday weekend ahead of Christmas.

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

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>People move past debris on street after a tsunami hit the coast in Serang city (METRO TV via AP)</figcaption>
People move past debris on street after a tsunami hit the coast in Serang city (METRO TV via AP)

He said he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw a big wave come towards him.

“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.”

The worst affected area was the Pandeglang region of Banten province in Java, which encompasses the Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the Disaster Management Agency said.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>A man inspects his house which was damaged by a tsunami, in Carita, Indonesia (Dian Triyuli Handoko/AP)</figcaption>
A man inspects his house which was damaged by a tsunami, in Carita, Indonesia (Dian Triyuli Handoko/AP)

In the city of Bandar Lampung on southern Sumatra, hundreds of residents took refuge at the governor’s office.

Alif, a resident in Pandeglang district who goes by one name, said the tsunami reached about 9.8ft high. He told MetroTV station that many people were still searching for missing relatives.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.

“My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lumpung provinces,” he said. “Hopefully, those who are left have patience.”

The Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait that links the Indian Ocean and Java Sea erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

The 1,000ft-high volcano, about 124 miles south-west of capital Jakarta, has been erupting since June.

In July, authorities widened its no-go areas to 1.24 miles from the crater.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Residents inspect a house damaged by a tsunami, in Carita (AP)</figcaption>
Residents inspect a house damaged by a tsunami, in Carita (AP)

Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Centre Indonesia, said the waves were likely caused by a flank collapse — when a big section of a volcano’s slope gives way.

He said it was possible for an eruption to trigger a landslide above ground or beneath the ocean, both capable of producing a tsunami.

“Actually, the tsunami was not really big, only one metre,” said Mr Prasetya, who has closely studied Krakatau. “The problem is people always tend to build everything close to the shoreline.”

Physical losses included 430 heavily damaged homes, nine heavily damaged hotels and 10 heavily damaged vessels.

Footage posted by the head of the disaster agency showed the aftermath of flooded streets and an overturned car.

In September, more than 2,500 people were killed by a quake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, which is just east of Borneo.

- Press Association

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