Krakatau volcano partial collapse triggered Indonesia tsunami

A tsunami killed at least 373 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano

Krakatau volcano partial collapse triggered Indonesia tsunami
A plume of ash rises as Anak Krakatau erupts in Indonesia - Photo: Susi Air via REUTERS
English 24/12/2018 12:59 Reuters Pandeglang Johan Purnomo & Adi Kurniawan Actualizada 12:59
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A tsunami killed at least 373 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.

Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate to higher ground. “1,459 people are injured, while 128 remain missing,” Nugroho said in a statement.

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.

Workers and ambulances were struggling to reach affected areas because some roads were blocked by debris from damaged houses, overturned cars, and fallen trees.

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.

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

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 December 25 as officials evaluate the risks and try to determine the exact cause of the disaster.

“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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

A large chunk of a flank of the volcanic Anak Krakatau island slipped into the ocean and triggered a tsunami, officials and scientists said on Monday.

This caused an underwater landslide and eventually caused the tsunami, said Dwikorita Karnawati, Head of the Meteorological Agency, adding that the waves hit shorelines 24 minutes later.

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.

sg

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