'Volcano' tsunami kills at least 62 in Indonesia

2018-12-23 07:27

A tsunami following a volcanic eruption killed 62 people and injured hundreds more as it slammed without warning into tourist beaches and coastal areas around Indonesia's Sunda Strait on Saturday night, sending panicked holidaymakers and residents fleeing.

Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the wave, which hit the coast of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java about 21:30 (14:30 GMT) following the eruption of a volcano known as the "child" of the legendary Krakatoa, national disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Search and rescue teams were scouring rubble for survivors, with at least 584 people injured and twenty reported missing across three regions.

READ: Hundreds killed in Indonesia quake-tsunami

Images broadcast on television showed the wave pushed a tangled mess of corrugated steel roofing, timber, rubble and flotsam inland from the coast at Carita beach, a popular day-tripping spot on the west coast of Java.

Elsewhere it uprooted trees and left a trail of debris strewn across the ground.

Sudden surge of water

Muhammad Bintang, who was at Carita beach when the wave hit, described a sudden surge of water that plunged the tourist spot into darkness.

"We arrived at 9pm for our holiday and suddenly the water came - it went dark, the electricity is off," said the 15-year-old.

"It's messy outside and we still cannot access the road."

In Lampung province, on the other side of the strait, Lutfi Al Rasyid said he fled the beach in Kalianda city in fear for his life.

"I could not start my motorbike so I left it and I ran... I just prayed and ran as far as I could," said the 23-year-old.

Authorities say the tsunami may have been triggered by an abnormal tidal surge due to a new moon and an underwater landslide following the eruption of Anak Krakatoa, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra.

"The combination caused a sudden tsunami that hit the coast," Nugroho said, but added that Indonesia's geological agency was working to ascertain exactly how it happened.

He added that the death toll would likely increase.

Video footage posted to social media by Nugroho showed panicked residents clutching flashlights and fleeing for higher ground.

'Initial error'

Indonesian authorities initially claimed the wave was not a tsunami, but instead a tidal surge and urged the public not to panic.

Nugroho later apologised for the mistake on Twitter, saying because there was no earthquake it had been difficult to ascertain the cause of the incident early on.

"If there is an initial error we're sorry," he wrote.

The wave swamped parts of the coast around the Sunda Strait, but was most damaging in Pandeglang district, on Java's western tip, where at least 33 people died and 491 people were injured.

Three people died further north in Serang, while seven were killed in South Lampung, on Sumatra island.

Heavy equipment was being transported to badly-hit areas to help search for victims, Nugroho said, adding evacuation posts and public kitchens were being set up for evacuees.

Abu Salim, a member of the Tagana disaster volunteer group, said he helped evacuate victims in Banten province.

"We evacuated the victims who died and were injured, we took them to health clinics... Most of them suffered from broken bones," he said, adding he feared more were missing.

Although relatively rare, submarine volcanic eruptions can cause tsunamis due to the sudden displacement of water or slope failure, according to the International Tsunami Information Centre.

Anak Krakatoa is a small volcanic island that emerged from the ocean half a century after Krakatoa's deadly 1883 eruption which killed more than 36 000 people.

According to Indonesia's geological agency, Anak Krakatoa had been showing signs of heightened activity for days, spewing plumes of ash thousands of metres into the air.

The volcano erupted again just after 21:00 on Saturday, the agency said.

An eruption just before 16:00 on Saturday lasted around 13 minutes and sent plumes of ash soaring hundreds of metres into the sky.

Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and a large portion of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

Most recently in the city of Palu on Sulawesi island a quake and tsunami killed thousands of people.

In 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220 000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168 000 in Indonesia.

Anak Krakatoa is one of 127 active volcanoes which run the length of the archipelago.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    indonesia  |  tsunami
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

QA Technical Tester

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Hi-Tech Recruitment - Johannesburg

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.