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Tsunami hits Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, death count rises to 222

It Was Caused By A Combination Of An Undersea Landslide Resulting From Volcanic Activity On Anak Krakatau And A Tidal Wave

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Fayiq Wani | Updated on: 23 Dec 2018, 04:32:57 PM
Several people were killed after waves hit the coast around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait caused by undersea landslides (File Photo)

New Delhi:

The death toll from a volcano-triggered tsunami in Indonesia has risen to 222, with more than 800 people injured, officials said Sunday.  "222 people are dead, 843 people are injured and 28 people are missing," Indonesia's national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. "This number is predicted to increase because not all victims have been successfully evacuated, not all health centres have reported victims and not all locations have got complete data."

“Dozens of buildings were destroyed by the wave, which hit beaches without warning in South Sumatra and the western tip of Java about 9.30 pm local time (1430 GMT) on Saturday,” Purwo earlier said in a statement. Another 165 people were hurt and dozens of buildings damaged Saturday night, the National Disaster Management Agency said. Indonesian authorities initially claimed the wave was not a tsunami, but instead a tidal surge and urged the public not to panic.  “It was caused by a combination of an undersea landslide resulting from volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau and a tidal wave,” Purwo said.

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Nugroho later apologised for the mistake on Twitter, saying because there was no earthquake it had been difficult to ascertain the cause of the incident early on.

"If there is an initial error, we're sorry," he wrote. Although relatively rare, submarine volcanic eruptions can cause tsunamis due to the sudden displacement of water or slope failure, according to the International Tsunami Information Centre.

Purwo Nugroho added that the death toll would likely increase. Video footage posted to social media by Nugroho showed panicked residents clutching flashlights and fleeing for higher ground. 

Anak Krakatoa 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.

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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.

Anak Krakatoa is one of 127 active volcanoes which run the length of the archipelago.

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First Published : 23 Dec 2018, 07:41:15 AM

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