At least 373 dead as rescuers work in tsunami-struck Indonesia

At least 373 dead as rescuers work in tsunami-struck Indonesia

Hundreds of people have been searching debris-strewn beaches for more victims from a deadly tsunami that smashed into houses, hotels and other buildings along an Indonesian strait.

The waves that swept terrified people into the sea on Saturday night along the Sunda Strait followed an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatau, one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands.

At least 373 people were killed and more than 1,400 were injured.

Dozens are missing from the disaster areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, and the numbers could increase once authorities hear from all stricken areas.

The Indonesian Medical Association says it is sending more doctors and medical equipment and that many of the injured are in need of orthopaedic and neurosurgery expertise.

It says most patients are domestic tourists who were visiting the beach during the long holiday weekend.

Indonesian soldiers prepare to search for victims in Tanjung Lesung beach hotel, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)
Indonesian soldiers prepare to search for victims in Tanjung Lesung beach hotel, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

It was the second deadly tsunami to hit Indonesia this year, but the one that struck the island of Sulawesi on September 28 was accompanied by a powerful earthquake that gave residents a brief warning before the waves struck.

On Saturday night, the ground did not shake beforehand to alert people to the oncoming wave that ripped buildings from their foundations in seconds and swept terrified concertgoers on a resort beach into the sea.

Dramatic video posted on social media showed the Indonesian pop band Seventeen performing under a tent on Tanjung Lesung beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company.

Dozens of people sat at tables while others swayed to the music near the stage as 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.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

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

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday morning that 373 deaths had been confirmed and at least 1,459 people were injured.

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

A resident inspects his house damaged by a tsunami near Sumur village, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)
A resident inspects his house damaged by a tsunami near Sumur village, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.

“My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lumpung provinces,” he said. “Hopefully, those who are left have patience.”

Scientists, including those from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency, said the tsunami could have been caused by landslides — either above ground or under water — on the steep slope of the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.

The 1,000ft-high Anak Krakatau, whose name means “Child of Krakatoa,” 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.

Updated at 7:32pm.

- Press Association

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