JAKARTA: At least 222 dead people were killed and nearly 843 injured on the islands of Sumatra and Java after a tsunami struck coastal areas around the Sunda Strait on Saturday night.
Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate to higher ground.Coastal residents reported not seeing or feeling any warning signs, such as receding water or an earthquake, before waves of 2-3 metres washed ashore, according to media.
Pandeglang district on Java’s western tip was the worst affected, with 164 people dead. Large number of casualties were recorded at two hotels in the area. 11 people died further north in Serang, while 48 were killed in South Lampung, on Sumatra island.
Authorities warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches and a high-tide warning remained in place through until December 25.
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.
Many victims were caught unawares by the tsunami while they enjoyed a holiday weekend in one of the popular local beach resorts.
The worst-affected area was the Pandeglang region of Java’s Banten province, which encompasses Ujung Kulon National Park.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.
The Red Cross has dispatched relief goods from its regional warehouse in Banten including water, tarpaulins, cleaning equipment (shovels, mattocks (axes), etc.), family kits and hygiene kits.
The Red Cross continues to respond and will provide further assistance based on the assessments currently under way.
The timing of the tsunami, over the Christmas holiday season, evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake on December 26 in 2004, which killed 226,000 people in 14 countries, among them Australians.