A tsunami apparently caused by undersea landslides from the eruption of an island volcano killed at least 43 people around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, sending a wall of water crashing some 20 metres inland and sweeping away hundreds of houses including hotels, the government and witnesses said on Sunday.
About 600 others have been injured, according to the Disaster Management Agency, who said the tsunami hit around 9:27pm local time on Saturday.
Scientists from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency said it could have been caused by undersea landslides from the eruption of Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island formed over years from the nearby Krakatau volcano. They also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.
The worst affected area was the Pandeglang region of Banten province in Java, which encompasses the Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the disaster agency said. Of the deaths, 33 were in Pandeglang.
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 , said the tsunami reached about three metres high. He told MetroTV station that many people were still searching for missing relatives.
TV 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.
Authorities warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches and a high-tide warning remained in place through till December 25.
“Please do not be around the beaches around the Sunda Strait. Those who have evacuated, please do not return yet,” said Rahmat Triyono, head of the meteorological agency.
|A local walks near her damaged house hit by tsunami at Tanjung Lesung district in Pandeglang, Banten province, Indonesia [Antara Foto/Muhammad Bagus Khoirunas/Reuters]|
Norwegian Oystein Lund Andersen was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw a big wave come crashing towards him, sending him running.
“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 trough forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of (by) the locals. Were unharmed, thankfully,” he said.
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”.
The Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait that links the Indian Ocean and Java Sea erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.
The 305-metre-high volcano, about 200km southwest of capital Jakarta, has been erupting since June. In July, authorities widened its no-go areas to 2km from the crater.
Physical losses included 430 heavily damaged homes, nine heavily damaged hotels and 10 heavily damaged vessels. Footage posted by the head of the disaster agency showed the aftermath of flooded streets and an overturned car.
In September, more than 2,500 people were killed by an earthquake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, which is just east of Borneo.