The death count from a volcano-triggered tsunami in Indonesia rose to 429, with more than 1,000 people injured, on Wednesday the national disaster agency said. “Evacuation, search and rescue of victims continue. There are victims who are under the rubble of buildings and material washed away by the tsunami,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho had said. The district of Pandeglang was worst hit, with 207 killed and 755 injured. “Panicked residents, police and soldiers in this remote fishing village clobbered by a devastating weekend tsunami ran to higher ground on Tuesday, shouting "Water is coming! Water is coming!" and reciting verses from the Quran as emergency messages were broadcast over mosque speakers. However, this proved to be a false alarm,” news agency PTI reported.
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Meanwhile, Christmas celebrations were replaced by sombre prayers, as church leaders called on Christians across Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, to pray for tsunami victims.
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.
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.
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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.
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.