Death toll climbs past 370 in In­done­sian tsunami dis­as­ter

The Tribune (SLO) - - News/Obituaries - BY NINIEK KARMINI

Body bags were laid out along the shat­tered coast­line as In­done­sian au­thor­i­ties stepped up ef­forts to col­lect the dead and save the in­jured Mon­day in the af­ter­math of a tsunami that was ap­par­ently trig­gered by a vol­canic erup­tion. The death toll climbed to 373 and was cer­tain to rise.

More than 1,400 peo­ple were in­jured and at least 128 were miss­ing af­ter the killer waves slammed into west­ern Java and south­ern Su­ma­tra with­out warn­ing Satur­day night, smash­ing homes to pieces and sweep­ing lo­cals and Christ­mas­time tourists into the sea.

Hun­dreds of mil­i­tary per­son­nel and vol­un­teers searched along de­bris­strewn beaches. Where vic­tims were found, yel­low, or­ange and black body bags were laid out, and weep­ing rel­a­tives iden­ti­fied the dead.

The waves fol­lowed an erup­tion and ap­par­ent land­slide on Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Kraka­toa,” a vol­canic is­land that formed in the early part of the 20th cen­tury near the site of the cat­a­clysmic 1883 erup­tion of Kraka­toa.

Ho­tels and hun­dreds of homes were heav­ily da­m­aged by the waves. Chunks of bro­ken con- crete and splin­tered wood lit­tered coastal ar­eas.

The In­done­sian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion said that it sent doc­tors, med­i­cal sup­plies and equip­ment, and that many of the in­jured were in need of or­tho­pe­dic and neu­ro­log­i­cal surgery. It said most vic­tims were In­done­sian tourists vis­it­ing beaches dur­ing the long week­end ahead of Christ­mas.

Video posted on so­cial me­dia showed the In­done­sian pop band Seven­teen per­form­ing in a tent on Tan­jung Lesung beach at a con­cert for em­ploy­ees of the state-owned elec­tric­ity com­pany when a wave smashed through the stage.

Seven­teen’s bass player, gui­tarist, drum­mer, road man­ager and tech­ni­cian were all killed. The lead singer sur­vived, but his wife, a backup singer, was miss­ing.

“I heard peo­ple shout­ing to run away, and I saw the wa­ter had gone up to the main­land and the ho­tel had been flooded by wa­ter,” said Feri Ar­dian. “About 200 peo­ple were dragged away by the waves.”

In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo, who faces what prom­ises to be a tough re-elec­tion cam­paign next year, vowed to have all tsunami-de­tec­tion equip­ment re­placed or re­paired.

Su­topo Purwo Nu­groho, spokesman for In­done­sia Dis­as­ter Mit­i­ga­tion Agency, ac­knowl­edged on Twit­ter that the coun­try’s net­work of de­tec­tion buoys had been out of or­der since 2012 be­cause of van­dal­ism and bud­get short­falls.

But the head of In­done­sia’s Me­te­o­rol­ogy, Cli­ma­tol­ogy and Geo­physics Agency, Dwiko­rita Kar­nawati, said the tsunami was caused by Krakatau’s vol­canic ac­tiv­ity and so could not have been picked up by her agency’s sen­sors, which mon­i­tor the con­ven­tional earthquakes re­spon­si­ble for more than 90 per­cent of In­done­sia’s tsunamis.

The tsunami was prob­a­bly caused by the col­lapse of a big sec­tion of the vol­cano’s slope, said Ge­gar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Re­search Cen­ter In­done­sia. The 305-me­ter (1,000foot) Anak Krakatau been erupt­ing since June and did so again 24 min­utes be­fore the tsunami, the geo­physics agency said.

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


Tsunami dam­age on a beach in Carita, In­done­sia. Doc­tors worked to save in­jured vic­tims while hun­dreds of ser­vice mem­bers and vol­un­teers scoured de­bris-strewn beaches in search of sur­vivors Mon­day af­ter a deadly tsunami gushed ashore with­out warn­ing on In­done­sian is­lands dur­ing a busy hol­i­day week­end. More than 1,400 peo­ple were in­jured and at least 128 were miss­ing.

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