As the disastrous effects of Indonesia’s latest tsunami hit in, efforts to collect hundreds of bodies and save the injured were beefed up on Monday. Scientists, on the other hand, are collecting shreds of evidence to understand the reason that triggered the volcanic eruption. Since Saturday night, the casualty figures have continued to rise, reaching to at least 373 people confirmed dead and more than 1,400 injured, the national disaster agency said on Monday.
The death toll was certain to rise further, with 128 people still missing from the affected areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, where hundreds of military personnel and volunteers were conducting their grim search along debris-strewn beaches.
“The number of victims and damage will continue to rise," said agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. “Evacuation, search and rescue of victims continue. There are victims who are under the rubble of buildings and material washed away by the tsunami,” he said. The Tsunami struck on Saturday night after an underwater landslide caused by eruptions from the Anak Krakatau volcano. The spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster agency called for a new early warning system, because the current system cannot detect tsunamis caused by landslides.
Tsunamis triggered by volcanic eruptions are relatively rare, caused by the sudden displacement of water or "slope failure", according to the International Tsunami Information Centre. Unlike those caused by earthquakes, which trigger alert systems, these tsunamis give authorities very little time to warn residents of the impending threat.
US President Donald Trump called the Indonesia Tsunami an ‘unthinkable devastation’ and offered a message of support for the people. "Unthinkable devastation from the tsunami disaster in Indonesia," the Donald Trump tweeted. "More than two hundred dead and nearly a thousand injured or unaccounted for. We are praying for recovery and healing. America is with you!"
The UN and European Union both pledged to mobilize humanitarian support if requested by Jakarta. "The United Nations stands ready to support the ongoing government-led rescue and relief efforts," a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
Anak Krakatoa is one of 127 active volcanoes which run the length of the archipelago. It is a small volcanic island that emerged from the ocean half a century after Krakatoa's deadly 1883 eruption. When Krakatoa erupted in the 19th century, a jet of ash, stones and smoke shot more than 20 kilometre into the sky, plunging the region into darkness, and sparking a huge tsunami that was felt around the world.
The disaster killed more than 36,000 people. Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific 'Ring of Fire', where tectonic plates collide and a large portion of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
Most recently in the city of Palu on Sulawesi island a quake and tsunami killed thousands of people. In 2004 a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.