Tsunami Set Off By Volcanic Eruption Kills Hundreds In Indonesia

December 23, 2018 - 11:58 am
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CARITA BEACH, Indonesia (AP) — An eruption of one of the world's most infamous volcanic islands is believed to have triggered a tsunami that killed at least 222 people in Indonesia during a busy holiday weekend. The waves smashed onto beaches at night without warning, ripping houses and hotels from their foundations in seconds and sweeping terrified concertgoers into the sea.

More than 800 people were injured and dozens more missing after the tsunami hit around the Sunda Strait at 9:27 p.m. Saturday, the Disaster Management Agency said. The toll could continue to rise because some areas had not yet been reached.

Scientists, including those from Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics agency, said Sunday that the tsunami could have been caused by underwater landslides or those occurring above ground on Anak Krakatau's steep slope following its eruption.

The volcano's name translates to "Child of Krakatoa," a volcanic island formed over years after one of the largest, most devastating eruptions in recorded history occurred at the Krakatoa volcano more than a century ago. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.

Dramatic video posted on social media showed the Indonesian pop band "Seventeen" performing under a tent on a popular beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company. Dozens of people sat listening at tables covered in white cloths while others bobbed to the music near the stage as bright strobe lights flashed and theatrical smoke was released.

A child could also be seen wandering through the crowd. Seconds later, with the drummer pounding just as the next song was about to begin, the stage suddenly heaved forward and buckled under the force of the water, tossing the band and its equipment into the audience.

The group released a statement saying their bass player, guitarist and road manager were found dead, while two other band members and the wife of one of the performers remained missing.

"The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site," the statement said. "Unfortunately, when the current receded our members were unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on."

Tourists who were enjoying the long holiday weekend ahead of Christmas were also affected.

Indonesia Tsunami
AP Photo/Dian Triyuli Handoko

"I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m (meters, or 50-65 feet) inland," Norwegian Oystein Lund Andersen wrote on Facebook. The self-described photographer and volcano enthusiast said he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw the water racing toward him. He and his family fled safely to higher ground.

The Anak Krakatau volcano lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, linking the Indian Ocean and Java Sea. It erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

The worst-affected area was the Pandeglang region of Java's Banten province, which encompasses Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the disaster agency said.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 222 deaths had been confirmed and at least 843 people were injured.

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