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Sunday, December 23, 2018, 18:07
Hundreds killed as 'volcano tsunami' hits Indonesia
By Associated Press
Sunday, December 23, 2018, 18:07 By Associated Press

Residents inspect a house damaged by a tsunami in Carita, Indonesia, Dec 23, 2018. (PHOTO / AP)

JAKARTA — A tsunami that occurred after the eruption of a volcano killed more than 222 people around Indonesia's Sunda Strait during a busy holiday weekend, sending water crashing ashore and sweeping away hotels, hundreds of houses and people attending a beach concert.

More than 700 people were reported injured after the tsunami hit at 9:27 pm Saturday, the Disaster Management Agency said. At least 30 others were missing, but 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 the tsunami could have been caused by undersea landslides or those occurring above sea level on the volcano's steep outside slope following the eruption of Anak Krakatau  — a volcanic island formed over years after one of the largest 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.

IN PICTURES: Deadly tsunami leaves Indonesia coast devastated

Dramatic footage posted on social media showed an Indonesian pop band named "Seventeen" performing under a tent on a popular beach at a concert for employees of the 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.

This AFP graphic shows a map locating where a tsunami hit Indonesia on Dec 22, 2018, killing dozens and injuring hundreds.

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 from the force of the water, throwing the band and all their equipment into the audience.

The band released a statement saying their bass player and road manager were found dead, while three 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 reads. "Unfortunately, when the current receded our members are unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on."

Tourists were also affected during the holiday weekend ahead of Christmas. Australia and New Zealand said they have no information their citizens were among the victims but were continuing to check.

A man inspects his house which was damaged by a tsunami in Carita, Indonesia, Dec 23, 2018. (DIAN TRIYULI HANDOKO / AP)

"I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m (meters) 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 a big wave come toward him.

"Next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it. Managed to evacuate with my family to higher ground trough forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of (by) the locals. Were unharmed, thankfully."

READ MORE: 10 minutes of terror: A quake, a tsunami and a missing son

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

Residents evacuate from damaged homes on Carita beach on Dec 23, 2018, after the area was hit by a tsunami on Dec 22. (SEMI / AFP)

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 168 deaths had been confirmed and at least 745 people were injured. Rescue workers were still trying to access other affected areas.

A spokesman for the Disaster Management Agency said 168 deaths had been confirmed and at least 745 people were injured

In the city of Bandar Lampung on southern Sumatra, hundreds of residents took refuge at the governor's office."My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lumpung provinces," he said. "Hopefully, those who are left have patience."Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.

Alif, a resident in Pandeglang district who goes by one name, said told MetroTV station that many people were still searching for missing relatives.

ALSO READ: Deadly quake, tsunami devastate Indonesia

The Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait that links the Indian Ocean and Java Sea erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

The 305 meter-high volcano, about 200 kilometers southwest of capital Jakarta, has been erupting since June. In July, authorities widened its no-go areas to 2 kilometers from the crater.

However, Anak Krakatau remains much smaller than Krakatoa when it blew in 1883, killing more than 30,000 people. Krakatoa launched far-reaching tsunamis and created so much ash, day was turned to night in the area and a global temperature drop was recorded. The violent explosions sank most of the island into the volcanic crater under the sea, and the area remained calm until the 1920s, when Anak Krakatau began to rise from the site. It continues to grow each year and periodically erupts.

This image grab made from video shows Anak Krakatau volcano erupting in Indonesia, Dec 22, 2018. (PHOTO / TV ONE VIA AP)

Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Center Indonesia, said the waves were likely caused by a flank collapse — when a big section of a volcano's slope gives way. He said it's possible for an eruption to trigger a landslide above ground or beneath the ocean, both capable of producing a tsunami.

The Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait that links the Indian Ocean and Java Sea erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said

"Actually, the tsunami was not really big, only one meter," said Prasetya, who has closely studied Krakatau. "The problem is people always tend to build everything close to the shoreline."

Nine hotels, 430 homes and 10 vessels were heavily damaged. Footage posted by the head of the disaster agency showed the aftermath of flooded streets and an overturned car.

In September, more than 2,500 people were killed by a quake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, which is just east of Borneo.

Saturday's tsunami triggered memories for some of the massive 9.1-magnitude earthquake that hit on Dec 26, 2004. It spawned a giant tsunami off Sumatra island in western Indonesia, killing more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries — the majority in Indonesia.

The vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is home to 260 million people and lies along the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas of disaster-prone Indonesia, making access difficult in the best of conditions.

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