Quantcast
Connect with us

Indonesian tsunami death toll stands at 222 after Krakatau eruption — now the volcano is erupting again

Published

on

A tsunami killed at least 222 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide believed to have been caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano, officials said on Sunday.

Hundreds of homes and other buildings were heavily damaged when the tsunami struck, almost without warning, along the rim of the Sunda Strait late on Saturday, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency, said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate to higher ground. By late afternoon on Sunday, the disaster agency had raised the death toll to 222, with 843 injured and 28 missing.

This year the vast archipelago, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, has suffered its worst death toll from disasters in over a decade. Earthquakes flattened parts of the tourist island of Lombok in July and August, and a double quake-and-tsunami killed more than 2,000 people on Sulawesi island in September.

As night fell, rescue efforts continued but workers and ambulances were struggling to reach affected areas because some roads were blocked by debris from damaged houses, overturned cars and fallen trees.

TV images showed when the tsunami hit the beach and residential areas in Pandeglang on Java, dragging with it victims, debris, and large chunks of wood and metal.

Coastal residents reported not seeing or feeling any warning signs on Saturday night, such as receding water or an earthquake, before waves of 2-3 meters (6-10 feet) washed ashore, according to media.

ADVERTISEMENT

The timing of the tsunami, over the Christmas holiday season, evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake on Dec. 26 in 2004, which killed 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Øystein Lund Andersen, a Norwegian photographer, was in Anyer town with his family when Saturday’s tsunami struck.

“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20 meters inland. Next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it,” he said on Facebook. “Managed to evacuate with my family to higher ground through forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of by the locals.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Graphic of disaster zone tmsnrt.rs/2RdjsMd

EVACUATION WARNING
Authorities warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches and a high-tide warning remained in place until Dec. 25 as officials evaluate the risks and try to determine the exact cause of the disaster.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Those who have evacuated, please do not return yet,” said Rahmat Triyono, an official at the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

President Joko Widodo, who is running for re-election in April, told reporters he had “ordered all relevant government agencies to immediately take emergency response measures, find victims and care for the injured”.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla warned that the death toll would “likely increase”.

ADVERTISEMENT

Heavy equipment is being moved in to help with rescue efforts as well as water and sanitation equipment. The military said it was deploying troops to distribute aid and blankets, as well as sending in medics.

The western coast of Banten province in Java, Indonesia’s most populated island, was the worst-hit area, Nugroho told reporters, adding that at least 35 people were reported dead in Lampung in southern Sumatra.

With the exact cause of the disaster still unknown, authorities are wary of the risk of a recurrence. Public works minister Basuki Hadimuljono said “emergency operations would be continuously carried out, but would stop at the stop at the first sign of possible high tides”.

“WASHED AWAY”
Television footage showed how the tsunami washed away an outdoor stage where a local rock band was performing for hundreds of guests at an end-of-year party for state utility company PLN.

ADVERTISEMENT

Four of the musicians from the band, Seventeen, were killed, along with 29 PLN employees and relatives.

“The water washed away the stage which was located very close to the sea,” the band said in a statement. “The water rose and dragged away everyone at the location. We have lost loved ones, including our bassist and manager … and others are missing.”

Police officers rescued a young boy who was trapped in a car buried under fallen trees and rubble for nearly 12 hours, according to a video of his rescue posted on Twitter by the Indonesian National Police.

The tsunami was caused by “an undersea landslide resulting from volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau” and was exacerbated by abnormally high tides because of the full moon, Nugroho said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Anak Krakatau, which lies roughly halfway between Java and Sumatra, has been spewing ash and lava for months. It erupted again just after 9 p.m. on Saturday and the tsunami struck at around 9.30 p.m., according to BMKG.

Ben van der Pluijm, an earthquake geologist and a professor in the University of Michigan, said the tsunami may have been caused by a “partial collapse” of Anak Krakatau.

“Instability of the slope of an active volcano can create a rock slide that moves a large volume of water, creating local tsunami waves that can be very powerful. This is like suddenly dropping a bag of sand in a tub filled with water,” he said.

The eruption of Krakatau, previously known as Krakatoa, in 1883 killed more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunamis.

Anak Krakatau, which means child of Krakatau, is the island that emerged from the area once occupied by Krakatau, which was destroyed in 1883. It first appeared in 1927 and has been growing ever since.

ADVERTISEMENT

Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin, Tabita Diela, Jessica Damiana, Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta; Writing by Fergus Jensen, Kanupriya Kapoor and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Alison Williams and David Stamp


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

AG Bill Barr will ‘try to interfere’ in the 2020 election to re-elect Trump: MSNBC national affairs analyst

Published

on

Attorney General William Barr will use the Department of Justice to "try to interfere" in the 2020 presidential election to re-elect Donald Trump, MSNBC's national affairs analyst predicted on Tuesday.

John Heilemann was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's "The Last Word."

"The attorney general, from the moment he walked into this job, has behaved in a -- as a ruthless, relentless political hack and a thug and who has behaved not as attorney general of the United States," Heilemann said.

"He made a travesty of the Mueller report and continues to lie on Donald Trump's behalf at every opportunity," he added.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump welcomed Russia’s Sergey Lavrov to the White House — to humiliate us all

Published

on

Despite the fact that President Donald Trump still refuses to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington for an officials meeting — a topic at the center of the scandal driving Trump’s impeachment — the White House hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.

And while Lavrov was honored with his second private Oval Office meeting (the first one was a cataclysmic disaster) and a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the foreign minister took his opportunity here to repeatedly humiliate the United States.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

United States, Mexico, Canada finalize Donald Trump’s USMCA trade deal

Published

on

The United States, Mexico and Canada signed a deal Tuesday to finalize their new trade agreement, paving the way to ratification after more than two years of arduous negotiations.

However, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the US Senate would likely delay Congressional ratification of the agreement until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In reality, it is the second time the three countries have triumphantly announced the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal meant to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA, which President Donald Trump complains has been "a disaster" for the US.

Continue Reading