373 dead, over 1,000 injured after ‘volcano tsunami’ hits Indonesia
Jakarta, Dec 23: At least 373 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured after a tsunami hit the coast around Indonesia's Sunda Strait, government officials said.
The country's disaster management agency said that the possible cause of the tsunami were undersea landslides after the Krakatoa volcano erupted. Officials say that the death toll is likely to rise further.
The Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean. The deaths were reported in the Pandeglang, South Lampung and Serang regions.
In this photo: Anak-Krakatau volcano with increased activity, 2.5 hours prior to the #tsunami waves hitting some areas on the coast of West-Java and Southern-Sumatra. #indonesia #anyer pic.twitter.com/0Xv3lQwAQ3— Øystein L. Andersen (@OysteinLAnderse) December 23, 2018
Local stations reported over 100 deaths, but this is yet to be confirmed. Initial indications are that 20 metre of wall of water washed across the coast, which is believed to have been caused by undersea landslides following the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano.
Dozens of buildings were destroyed by the wave, which hit beaches without warning in South Sumatra and the western tip of Java about 9.30pm local time on Saturday, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.
The tsunami may have been triggered by an abnormal tidal surge due to a new moon and an underwater landslide following the eruption of Anak Krakatoa, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra.
"The combination caused a sudden tsunami that hit the coast," Nugroho said, but added that Indonesia's geological agency was working to ascertain exactly how it happened.
The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) in a separate statement said it could have been caused by undersea landslides from Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island formed over years from the Krakatau volcano, which last erupted in October. The Anak Krakatau volcano erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said. The 1,000-foot-high volcano, about 124 miles southwest of capital Jakarta, has been erupting since June. In July, authorities widened its no-go areas to 1.24 miles from the crater.A tall plume of volcanic ash continues to pour from the volcano.
Visions shard on the social media show locals running in fear as the waves swamped the coastline. "I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m (meters) inland," Oystein Lund Andersen wrote on Facebook. He said that he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw a big wave coming 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."