- Hundreds were left dead Saturday night in Indonesia after a tsunami struck one of the nation’s most populous areas.
- Scientists believe volcanic activity from a nearby volcano triggered underwater landslides.
- There was no seismic activity recorded in the area to preempt an evacuation, causing further devastation.
Waves unexpectedly crashed onto the beaches of Anak Krakatau island in Indonesia just past 9 p.m. local time Saturday, instantly dragging hundreds of unsuspecting victims into the ocean and killing over 200, injuring at least 800 and leaving dozens of others missing.
Scientists believe the tsunami, which struck around the Sunda Strait in between two of Indonesia’s most populous islands, was caused either by subsequent underwater landslides after the volcano erupted or from movements above ground near the slope of the volcano, according to The Associated Press.
There was no seismic activity recorded in the area, which could have prompted an evacuation of the island before the devastation occurred, officials said.
The volcano erupted 24 minutes before the the tsunami, scientists from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency said, adding that high tides from the full moon may have contributed to the strength of the waves.
“There was no tsunami warning,” said Rahmat Triyono, the agency’s earthquake and tsunami chief. “There was no earthquake.”
The island, translated to “Child of Krakatoa,” emerged in 1927 from the Krakatoa volcano, one of the largest and most destructive eruptions ever recorded in 1883 in which 30,000 people were killed.
A video captured a stage where a band was playing collapsing and concertgoers running in terror as the waves smashed onto the beach. (RELATED: Harrowing Video Shows Massive Indonesian Tsunami Wiping Out Concert Venue)
The band released a statement on the incident, saying three band members are dead and several others and their family members are missing.
“The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site,” the statement reads, according to AP. “Unfortunately, when the current receded our members were unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on.”
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, from the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management, posted a video of the relief efforts on Twitter in which rescuers are seen pulling bodies from beneath the rubble.
Evakuasi korban tsunami di Selat Sunda terus dilakukan oleh tim gabungan. Jumlah korban terus bertambah. Hingga 23/12/2018 pukul 10.00 WIB tercatat 62 orang meninggal dunia, 584 orang luka & 20 orang hilang. Ratusan rumah dan bangunan rusak. Alat berat dikerahkan untuk evakuasi. pic.twitter.com/DYUbxGzPmw
— Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN) December 23, 2018
A 16 year-old recalls being confused and scared after being hit with a wave of water while in his vocational training with a group of 30 other students at Patra Comfort Hotel.
“Suddenly a 1-meter wave hit me,” he said. “I was thrown into the fence of a building about 30 meters from the beach and held onto the fence as strong as I could, trying to resist the water, which felt like it would drag me back into the sea. I cried in fear … ‘This is a tsunami?’ I was afraid I would die.”
The death toll is expected to rise as at almost 900 are injured and dozens of others remain missing.
“I was myself at the beach photographing the well known volcano – Anak-krakatau, when I suddenly saw a big wave [coming],” Norwegian photographer Øystein L. Andersen, posted on Facebook.
Driving past debris from the impact zone of the tsunami in #Anyer. Many local houses are damaged. Note also the wierd color of the sea, never seen it like that. #Indonesia #Tsunami pic.twitter.com/c5ryey6ElO
— Øystein L. Andersen (@OysteinLAnderse) December 23, 2018
“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m inland. Next wave entered the hotel area where i was staying and downed cars on the road behind it.”
Over 556 houses have been destroyed, along with hotels, boats and nearby infrastructure.
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, posted his condolences on Twitter.
“I have ordered all the ranks of the Government related to immediately conduct emergency response measures, seeking and finding the victims, caring for the wounded,” he wrote.
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