Dozens of people have been killed after a tsunami hit the coast around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, according to government officials. The national disaster management agency said hundreds of people were hurt and many buildings were damaged after the tsunami struck on Saturday night.
The worst affected area was the Pandeglang region of Banten province in Java, which encompasses the Ujung Kulon national park and popular beaches, the agency said. Of the 62 reported deaths, at least 33 were in Pandeglang.
Television footage showed roads blocked by debris from damaged houses, overturned cars and fallen trees. The water washed away an outdoor stage where a local rock band was performing, killing at least one musician. Others were missing.
In the city of Bandar Lampung on southern Sumatra, hundreds of residents took refuge at the governor’s office.
Alif, a resident in Pandeglang district who goes by one name, said the tsunami reached about 3m (9.84 feet) high. He told MetroTV station that many people were still searching for missing relatives.
Physical losses included 430 heavily damaged homes, nine heavily damaged hotels and 10 heavily damaged vessels.
The agency added that one possible cause of the tsunami was undersea landslides after the Anak Krakatoa volcano erupted. The Sunda Strait, between the islands of Java and Sumatra, connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.
According to a statement from Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG), “the tsunami hit several areas of the Sunda Strait, including beaches in Pandeglang regency, Serang, and South Lampung”.
The tsunami struck at around 9.30pm local time on Saturday night. It is believed to have been caused by volcano activity and there were no “significant” seismic tremors to indicate a tsunami was coming.
Endan Permana, head of the national disaster agencyin Pandeglang, said police were providing immediate assistance to victims in Tanjung Lesung in Banten province, a popular tourist getaway not far from Jakarta.
“Many are missing,” Permana said.
The BBC reported that footage posted by the head of communications for the disaster agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, showed the aftermath of the tsunami, with flooded streets and an overturned car.
Øystein Lund Andersen, a Norwegian photographer who was in the area, wrote on Facebook that he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw a big wave come toward him.
“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m [metres] inland.
“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 through forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of [by] the locals. We’re unharmed, thankfully.”
Dramatic TV footage showed the seconds when waves hit a concert at the event and washed away the stage where local rock band Seventeen was performing.
“The water washed away the stage which was located very close to the sea,” the band said in a statement.
“The water rose and dragged away everyone at the location. We have lost loved ones, including our bassist and manager…and others are missing.”
The disaster mitigation agency said it was still compiling information on the disaster and there was a “possibility that data on the victims and damage will increase”.
Anak Krakatoa was formed from the remains of the original Krakatoa volcano which erupted in 1883 in what is thought to be one of the most violent volcanic events ever.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said details were still emerging and the government was preparing to deal with the emergency.
“It is possible victim data and damage will increase. Heavy equipment is being deployed to assist in evacuation and emergency repairs. BMKG and the Geological Agency are carrying out studies to ascertain the causes of the tsunamis and possible follow-up.”
Authorities have warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches and a high-tide warning remains in place until December 25.
In September, at least 832 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.
Source – Reuters and Associated Press