Sunday 22 September 2019

False alarm causes fresh panic as tsunami toll hits 429

Grim task: Rescue workers carry a body bag of a tsunami victim
at Tanjung Lesung, in western Java. Photo: REUTERS
Grim task: Rescue workers carry a body bag of a tsunami victim at Tanjung Lesung, in western Java. Photo: REUTERS

Niniek Karmini in Jakarta

Panicked residents, police and soldiers in remote fishing villages in Indonesia clobbered by a devastating weekend tsunami ran to higher ground yesterday, shouting "Water is coming! Water is coming!" as emergency warnings were broadcast.

Unsettled survivors of the disaster remain traumatised by a tragedy that killed more than 420 people and left thousands homeless. Christmas celebrations were replaced by sombre prayers, as church leaders called on Christians across Indonesia to pray for tsunami victims.

Unlike other tsunamis that have hit disaster-prone Indonesia following large earthquakes, Saturday's big waves blasted ashore at night without warning. The eruption of Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa, a volcano in the Sunda Strait, is believed to have created a landslide on the volcano's slope, displacing a large volume of water that slammed into the islands of Java and Sumatra.

People in Sumur village, in Indonesia's west and which has been slow to receive aid due to roads being cut off, remained stunned by how quickly the tsunami hit. The beach, located just a few kilometres from the tourist island of Umang near Java's western tip, is popular for snorkelling and other water activities. The tsunami decimated the area, ripping houses from their foundations.

Scientists have said the tsunami's waves were recorded in several places at about one metre high, but residents of Sumur insisted they towered more than three metres. They said a soaring white wall of water roared toward them at high speeds, ripping trees out of the ground by their roots.

The death toll climbed to 429 yesterday, with more than 1,400 people injured and at least 128 missing.

Irish Independent

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