At Least 429 Dead In Indonesian Tsunami, As Residents Warned To Remain Vigilant

Dec 26, 2018
Originally published on December 26, 2018 10:44 pm

The death toll from a tsunami that hit the Sunda Strait coastline of Indonesia over the weekend has risen to 429, according to authorities who issued new warnings on the grim anniversary of a 2004 earthquake and tsunami that killed a staggering 230,000 people across 14 countries.

NPR's Julie McCarthy reports that relief operations continue for thousands of victims, including many who have lost their homes.

The latest tsunami, spawned by the side of a volcano slipping into the ocean, follows one triggered by a quake that struck just three months ago on Indonesia's Sulawesi island. That temblor and tsunami killed an estimated 2,100 people.

On Wednesday, Indonesian authorities warned that the continued eruption of Anak Krakatau, or "Child of Krakatau" could trigger additional tsunami.

Government workers were monitoring the eruptions, and high waves and heavy rain were possible Wednesday, said the head of Indonesia's Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency, Dwikorita Karnawati.

"All these conditions could potentially cause landslides at the cliffs of the crater into the sea, and we fear that that could trigger a tsunami," she said at a news conference.

According to Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, "On Tuesday, a fresh eruption at the Anak Krakatau volcano sent residents fleeing from coastline areas. Locals and officials alike in Sumur, among the areas worst hit by the tsunami, scrambled for higher ground after hearing a booming sound at about 2:40 pm local time."

Channel News Asia adds, "Clouds of ash spewed from Anak Krakatoa, almost obscuring the volcanic island where a crater collapse at high tide on Saturday sent waves up to [16 feet] high smashing into the coast on the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands."

In the wake of the latest tsunami, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has promised a new early warning system by next year.

A spokesman for Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency says the country's tsunami warning system has been broken since 2012 because of a lack of funds, passing ships striking the warning buoys, and vandalism.

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