Indonesia: Sunda Strait tsunami death toll likely to rise, say Indonesian officials

More than 220 confirmed dead and hundreds injured by waves linked to volcanic eruption
Justin McCurry, Frances Perraudin and agencies The Guardian 23 Dec 18;

There were fears of further eruptions and warnings that the death toll could rise dramatically after the tsunami which struck tourist beaches and coastal areas around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait.

Officials said 222 people were confirmed dead and a further 843 injured after waves, thought to have been caused by underwater landslides triggered by a volcanic eruption, surged towards the coastlines of the islands of Java and Sumatra at about 9.30pm local time (2.30pm GMT) on Saturday.

Indonesia’s disaster management agency said 28 people were still missing and rescuers had yet to reach all the affected areas.

The worst-hit area was the Pandeglang area of Banten province in Java, the agency said.

Footage filmed on mobile phones showed the moment the tsunami hit beaches and residential areas in Pandeglang, sweeping people and buildings away. Rescue efforts continued as night fell on Sunday, but workers and ambulances were prevented from reaching some areas because roads remained blocked by debris.

Kathy Mueller from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told Agence France-Presse aid workers were helping evacuate injured people, bring in clean water and tarpaulins, and provide shelter.

She said the group was preparing for the possibility of diseases breaking out in the tsunami zone, adding: “The situation, and the death toll, will remain fluid over the next days and even weeks.”

The water washed away an outdoor stage where a local rock band, Seventeen, were performing, killing their bassist and manager. Other people who had been watching the band on the beach were missing.

“The water rose and dragged away everyone at the location. We have lost loved ones, including our bassist and manager … and others are missing,” Seventeen said in a statement.

In the city of Bandar Lampung in southern Sumatra, hundreds of residents took refuge at the governor’s office.

Muhammad Bintang, 15, who was at Carita beach on the west coast of Java when the wave arrived, described a sudden surge of water that plunged the tourist spot into darkness. “We arrived at 9pm for our holiday and suddenly the water came – it went dark, the electricity is off,” he said. “It’s messy outside and we still cannot access the road.”

The disaster agency said it was still compiling information on the tsunami’s impact and there was a “possibility that data on the victims and damage will increase”.

“Heavy equipment is being deployed to assist in evacuation and emergency repairs. BMKG [Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency] and the Geological Agency are carrying out studies to ascertain the causes of the tsunamis and possible follow-up,” it said.

Authorities have told residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches, amid fears of further eruptions, and a high-tide warning will remain in place until 25 December.

The tsunami is believed to have been caused by undersea landslides that followed an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano. There were no significant seismic tremors to indicate a tsunami was coming.

Anak Krakatau, which is roughly halfway between Java and Sumatra, has been spewing ash and lava for months. The island volcano, whose name means child of Krakatau, is one of 127 active volcanoes along the length of the Indonesian archipelago.

It emerged from the ocean half a century after an eruption on nearby Krakatau in 1883. That eruption, thought to be one of the most violent volcanic events in recorded history, killed more than 36,000 people.

Ben van der Pluijm, an earthquake geologist, said the tsunami may have been caused by a partial collapse of Anak Krakatau.

“Instability of the slope of an active volcano can create a rockslide that moves a large volume of water, creating local tsunami waves that can be very powerful. This is like suddenly dropping a bag of sand in a tub filled with water,” he said.

Tsunamis caused in this way do not trigger alert systems and give authorities very little time to warn people of the impending threat.

Dr Simon Boxall from the National Oceanography Centre in the UK said: “There will be an outcry as to why an early warning system didn’t kick in. The same criticism was levelled after the September Palu tsunami, which killed 2,000 people.

“These tsunamis are very localised and to cover the Indian Ocean with sufficient sensors to warn against all such eventualities would require many thousand buoys on the network.”

The disaster agency said the size of the tsunami may have been exacerbated by an abnormally high tide because of the full moon.

A statement from the BMKG said: “The tsunami hit several areas of the Sunda Strait, including beaches in Pandeglang regency, Serang and South Lampung.”

Footage of the aftermath of the tsunami showed flooded streets and an overturned car. A spokesman for the disaster agency said 556 houses, nine hotels, 60 food stalls and 350 boats were known to have been damaged.

Øystein Lund Andersen, a Norwegian photographer who was in the area, wrote on Facebook that he was taking pictures of the volcano when he saw a big wave come towards him. “I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m [metres] inland,” he said.

“Next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it. Managed to evacuate with my family to higher ground through forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of [by] the locals. We’re unharmed, thankfully.”

Indonesia sits on the seismically active Pacific “ring of fire” and regularly experiences earthquakes and tsunamis. In September, more than 2,000 people were killed by a quake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi.

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude-9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Another tsunami could hit Indonesia, experts warn
Laurence COUSTAL, AFP Yahoo News 24 Dec 18;

Paris (AFP) - Another tsunami could strike Indonesia, experts warned on Sunday, a day after more than 200 people were killed by a wave triggered by a volcanic eruption.

- What caused the tsunami? -

The tsunami "appears to have been caused by an underwater collapse" of part of the Anak (or "child of") Krakatoa volcano, said David Rothery of The Open University in Britain.

Anak Krakatoa is a new island that emerged around 1928 in the crater left by Krakatoa, whose massive 1883 eruption killed at least 36,000 people.

The volcano has been particularly active since June, noted Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff at the University of Paris-South.

The tsunami that struck on Saturday was the third to hit Indonesia in six months.

Indonesia has 127 active volcanoes and lies on the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire" where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are frequent.

- Why was it so deadly? -

Anak Krakatoa, located in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, is close to densely populated zones.

And while the tsunami was relatively small, Richard Teeuw of the University of Portsmouth in England said: "Such waves -- laden with debris -- can be deadly for coastal communities, especially if there is no warning."

Simon Boxall of Southampton University added that the region was also in spring tide, "and it would appear that the wave hit some of the coastal areas at the highest point of this high tide, exacerbating the damage done."

It also struck at night, further catching people by surprise.

- Why were people not warned? -

"We were helpless given how sudden" the event took place, Bardintzeff said. "The time between cause and effect was a few dozen minutes, which was too short to warn the population".

"Tsunami warning buoys are positioned to warn of tsunamis originated by earthquakes at underwater tectonic plate boundaries," Rothry said.

"Even if there had been such a buoy right next to Anak Krakatoa, this is so close to the affected shorelines that warning time would have been minimal given the high speeds at which tsunami waves travel."

- Could more tsunamis be coming? -

"The likelihood of further tsunamis in the Sunda Strait will remain high while Anak Krakatoa volcano is going through its current active phase because that might trigger further submarine landslides," Teeuw said.

Bardintzeff also warned that "we must be wary now that the volcano has been destabilised".

Teeuw said that sonar surveys would now be needed to map the seafloor around the volcano, but "unfortunately submarine surveys typically take many months to organise and carry out," he added.

But "devastating tsunami caused by volcanic eruptions are rare; one of the most famous (and deadly) was caused by the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883."

Anak Krakatau avalanche caused Sunda strait tsunami
Antara 24 Dec 18;

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that the tsunami that occurred in the Sunda Strait on Saturday was caused by the avalanche of the slopes of Mount Anak Krakatau. FOTO/Bisnis Indonesia/Nurul Hidayat/pras. (ANTARA FOTO/NURUL)

Jakarta, Dec 24 (ANTARA News) - The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that the tsunami that occurred in the Sunda Strait on Saturday was caused by the avalanche of the slopes of Mount Anak Krakatau.

"From the observation of satellite imagery, there has been a deformation of 64 hectares of Gunung Anak Krakatau, especially on the southwest slope," BMKG Head Dwikorita Karnawati noted in a statement in Jakarta on Monday.

Deformation or change in shape on the surface of the body of Gunung Anak Krakatau is a collapse caused by the vibration or tremor from volcanic activity.

This condition is also exacerbated by extreme weather that occurs in the form of waves and high rainfall. BMKG has issued an early warning the day before.

"This phenomenon is reinforced by an analysis of four tide gauge models that show that the tsunami`s energy source originates from the South of Mount Anak Krakatau," Karnawati explained.

The tsunami struck Banten and Lampung on Saturday night (Dec 22) without being preceded by an earthquake, so that it was thought to have occurred due to volcanic activity of Mount Anak Krakatau.

Reporting by Desi Purnamasari



BMKG urges residents to stay clear of beaches until Wednesday
The Jakarta Post 24 Dec 18;

Central authorities have warned residents to temporarily halt activities along the beaches of the Sunda Strait, following what they called a volcanic earthquake on Anak Krakatau volcano that had triggered a tsunami in Banten and Lampung on Saturday night.

Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) chairwoman Dwikorita Karnawati said the agency had forecast extreme weather in the area until at least Wednesday.

“Weather forecasts suggest extreme weather, including strong winds and torrential rain, which may trigger high tide and last until at least Wednesday. Residents should not panic but please refrain from conducting any activities near beaches. We will announce later if we think the warning should be extended,” Dwikorita told a joint press conference in Jakarta on Monday.

She further advised residents to always refer to authorized agencies, particularly the BMKG, when seeking reliable information.

The authorities will also closely monitor Anak Krakatau, she said.

After studying data and satellite imagery, a joint team involving relevant institutions such as the Coordinating Maritime Ministry, the BMKG and the Geospatial Information Body concluded that Anak Krakatau’s eruptions had led to a material collapse, which triggered tremors equivalent to a magnitude-3.4 earthquake, she explained.

“The eruptions caused what we call an underwater landslide which, within only 24 minutes, triggered a tsunami. The resulting tremors were equivalent to a magnitude-3.4 earthquake with Anak Krakatau as the epicenter,” she said.

More than 90 percent of earthquakes occurring in Indonesia are tectonic earthquakes and the BMKG, the highest authority to manage early warning system, did not have immediate access to data related to volcanic earthquakes.

"It's with another office," she said.

The Sunda Strait tsunami killed at least 281 people and injured more than 1,016 others. At least 57 people have also been declared missing.

Meanwhile, local agencies have deployed their personnel to coastal areas in their region.

The Garut Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) in West Java focused particularly on popular tourist destinations, including beaches.

BPBD Garut head Dadi Djakaria said the agency would also closely monitor information from the early warning system, which covers various spots in the region, including the flood-prone Cimanuk River.

“Everything is under control as of now,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency. (swd)

Death toll from Sunda Strait tsunami rises to 429
Antara 26 Dec 18;

A fish auction facility (TPI) destroyed after a tsunami hit nelayan village in Labuan, Pandeglang district of Banten Province on late Saturday. Death toll from the disaster until 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday (25/12/2018), has increased to 429, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB). (ANTARA PHOTO/MUHAMMAD BAGUS KHOIRUNAS)

Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Death toll from the tsunami disaster in Sunda Strait, Banten Province, until 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday, has increased to 429, an official stated.

Spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho made the remarks at a press gathering here, adding that the tsunami affected the five districts of Pandeglang and Serang in Banten Province and the districts of South Lampung, Pesawaran, and Tanggamus in Lampung Province.

"(The death toll) can possibly increase, the most severe impact being in Pandeglang," Nugroho revealed.

The BNPB also revealed that until the third day after the Sunda Strait tsunami, 1,485 people were injured, 154 went missing, and 16,082 people were displaced by the tsunami that occurred on Saturday night on December 22, 2018.

According to Sutopo, of the five districts, Pandeglang suffered the worst impact, with 290 people dead, 1,143 injured, 77 missing, and 14,395 displaced.

In South Lampung District, 108 people died, 279 were injured, nine were missing, and 1,373 people were displaced.

Meanwhile, in Serang District, 29 people died, 62 were injured, 68 were missing, and 83 were displaced. One person died, one was injured, and 231 were displaced in Pesawaran, while one died in Tanggamus.

In the face of the natural disaster, the emergency response period has been applied for 14 days for Pandeglang District, from December 22, 2018, to January 4, 2019, while for South Lampung, the emergency response period is applicable for a week, on December 23-29, 2018.

"It can likely be extended in accordance with the conditions," he added.

Out of the total number of dead victims, 84 bodies have decomposed at Pandeglang`s Berkah general hospital, according to Raden Dewi Sentani, head of the Pandeglang District Health affairs office.

"All bodies have not been identified, thereby leading to difficulties for their families in recognizing (the decomposed bodies)," he remarked.

The Berkah hospital does not have adequate refrigeration facility to preserve the large number of corpses.

At present, the dead bodies have been stored in a room without cooling facilities that can result in their decomposition, thereby posing a threat to public health.

Thus, the hospital management has urged the Ministry of Health to provide refrigerated containers to store the large number of bodies.

The corpses lying for three days in the hospital would have been discolored, thereby hindering the identification process.

Raden further suggested that bodies kept for more than a week should be buried en masse, as the decomposed corpses emit a foul odor that pose a danger to public health.

Reporting by Desi Purnamawati/Bustanudin
Editing by Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Sri Haryati