Hunt for survivors as Indonesian tsunami death toll tops 280

Hunt for survivors as Indonesian tsunami death toll tops 280

The toll from the tsunami that struck around Indonesia's Sunda Strait on December 22 rose to 373 on Monday, AFP quoted the country's disaster agency as saying.

The Indonesian Medical Association of the worst-affected Banten region said that it sent doctors, medical supplies and equipment, and that numerous injured were in need of orthopaedic and neurological surgery.

The evidence so far suggested that a section of the volcano collapsed and slid into the ocean, triggering a tsunami, said Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia's meteorological agency.

"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.

- 2006: A 6.8 magnitude quake hit south of Java, Indonesia's most populated island, triggering a tsunami that smashed into the southern coast, killing almost 700 people.

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. Most of the victims were Indonesian citizens, including many enjoying a pre-Christmas beach getaway not far from the capital Jakarta, but foreigners were also visiting the area.

As long as the volcano remains active, residents should be vigilant, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency.

A massive 9.1 magnitude quake on the western coast of Indonesia's Aceh province in northern Sumatra on December 26 triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coastline, more than half of them in Aceh.

A resident injured by the tsunami is treated at a health center
A resident injured by the tsunami is treated at a health center

Authorities said they deployed seven excavators and 12 dump trucks to sift through and remove the debris, but many rescuers simply used their bare hands to search for survivors.

Popular beach resorts were turned into ghost towns, with concrete, wood and debris from thatched bamboo huts strewn along the coast. Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead. The National Agency for Disaster Management said Indonesia does not have tsunami warning systems that are triggered by volcanic activity, and that buoys in place to detect a sudden rise in wave height after earthquakes do not work due to vandalism, lack of maintenance and funding.

"Tsunamis from volcanic flank collapse are generated right at the coast and often close to populations", said Eddie Dempsey, lecturer in structural geology at Britain's University of Hull. "I jumped over the wall", she said. The operation is being hindered by blocked roads and rainfall.

At least two band members were killed along with its manager and a crew member, while Indonesian media said the band's missing drummer was found dead Monday.

- 2018: Major quakes hit Indonesia's tourist island of Lombok, killing more than 500 people, mostly on the northern side of the island.

Anak Krakatau was erupting again on Sunday, spewing ash and smoke.

Its deadly impact is a reminder of its historic past. An eruption there in 1883 had killed 36,000 people and had sparked a tsunami that was felt around the world. Anak Krakatau is the island that emerged from the area in 1927, and has been growing ever since.

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