Indonesia tsunami: People urged to avoid coast near erupting volcano as death toll rises to 430

Warning issued on anniversary of catastrophic 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 26 December 2018 20:55
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Indonesia Tsunami: rescuers continue search as death toll rises

Authorities in Indonesia have warned people to avoid the coast in areas where a tsunami killed at least 430 people over the weekend.

The big waves followed an eruption on a volcanic island called Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Krakatoa”, and slammed into communities along the Sunda Strait on Saturday night.

The eruption is believed to have set off a large landslide on the volcano, which displaced the water that smashed into Java and Sumatra islands.

At least 430 were killed, with at least 159 people missing. Nearly 1,500 people were injured and more than 21,000 have evacuated to higher ground.

Indonesia’s meteorology, geophysics and climatology Agency asked people to stay at least 500m (1,640ft) and up to 1km from the coastline along the strait, which lies between the two islands.

The agency was monitoring Anak Krakatau’s eruptions as stormy weather and high surf continued to plague the area, said agency head Dwikorita Karnawati.

“All these conditions could potentially cause landslides at the cliffs of the crater into the sea, and we fear that that could trigger a tsunami,” Ms Karnawati said at a news conference. She asked communities to remain vigilant and not to panic.

The warning was reiterated by the country’s disaster agency on Wednesday, the anniversary of the catastrophic 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami.

The latest tsunami struck without warning on the night of a holiday weekend while people were enjoying concerts and other beach and resort activities.

Indonesia Tsunami: Volcano erupting

Rescue teams have struggled to reach remote areas on the western coast of Java amid an extreme weather warning.

Heavy rain lashed fishing villages along the coast, muddying roads and holding up convoys delivering heavy machinery and aid to isolated areas.

A state of emergency has been declared until 4 January, which authorities hope will make it easier to deploy assistance, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for the national disaster mitigation agency.

Search and rescue teams were focused on the town of Sumur near the southwest tip of Java, but Mr Nughoro said the roads were “ damaged and clogged” and helicopters had to be deployed to carry out assessments and evacuations.

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Volunteers were having to piece together makeshift bridges out of concrete blocks after the waves washed away infrastructure along the coast.

The surge of seawater also left dozens of turtles, weighing several kilograms, stranded on land, and some volunteer rescuers carried them back to the sea.

Indonesia is a vast archipelago that sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”. This year, the country has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.

Additional reporting by agencies

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