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

Food safety a good practice amid COVID-19 concerns

BC Centre for Disease Control offers useful food safe information for households

Sidney’s top emergency official says he is not aware of any COVID-19 cases in the community

The public Sunday also heard of future plans to help local businesses through tax deferments

COVID-19: Victoria plumbing company dedicates van for grocery delivery

The Super Plumber uses van to pick up groceries for those in need during COVID-19 pandemic

Digitization of Peninsula News Review by Sidney Museum and Archives preserves historical legacy

Searchable database will ease research and preserve integrity of records

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

Most Read