Tsunami death toll in Indonesia climbs to 397


Scores of people were killed and many more were injured or unaccounted for when a tsunami hit the island nation of Indonesia without warning Sunday following a volcanic eruption and underwater landslides miles offshore.

By early Monday morning, officials were warning residents and tourists to stay as far away from coastal areas as possible, as continued volcanic eruptions from Mount Anak Krakatau could potentially trigger a second devastating tsunami.

At least 397 people died, more than 1,000 were injured and another 77 are missing as the wave came crashing ashore on the northwest coast of Java, one of the large islands comprising the country, officials said early Tuesday.

The number of dead and injured were both likely to rise, officials said on Sunday.

More than 600 housing units and at least nine hotels were destroyed or badly damaged in the tsunami, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of public relations for the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency. He said nearly 12,000 people have been displaced.

Nugroho said at least 430 houses and nine hotels were destroyed or badly damaged in the tsunami.

The tsunami was likely caused by underwater landslides that came on the back of the eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait, about 60 miles off the coast of Java, Indonesia’s Meteorological, Climatological and Geological Agency said. The tsunami struck 24 minutes after the volcanic eruption.

The devastation may have been exacerbated by an inoperable tsunami early warning system, which, due to a lack of funding, vandalism and technical problems, hasn’t been operational since 2012, Sutopo said.

It was Indonesia’s second tsunami this year, and it struck in a flash, officials said. A tsunami that struck the island of Sulawesi in September briefly was preceded by a potent earthquake on land that caused the ground to shake but gave the coastal population precious extra minutes to head inland.

On Saturday night, the tsunami blasted the shoreline without warning, sucking beachgoers into the raging sea with the overwhelming force of a giant magnet.

The Krakatau volcano is part of the sprawling, horseshoe-shaped natural disaster zone dubbed the “Ring of Fire”. The zone stretches 25,000 miles from New Zealand up through Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, and then across the Aleutian Islands and down the coasts of Alaska, Canada, the West Coast of the United States and all the way down to the tip of South America.

In one dramatic scene caught on video, the Indonesian pop band “Seventeen” was on stage performing at the Tanjung Lesung beach resort near the tip of Java when a wave of water plowed into the stage and washed the band members into the audience.
A team of police officers combing collapsed buildings in a village north of Labuham on the northwest coast of Java island saved a 5-year-old boy found buried in the rubble. A video showed officers pulling the boy from a collapsed structure and carrying him to safety as he broke into tears.

Kathy Mueller of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told ABC News that her organization mobilized teams to help in the search-and-rescue effort and to treat and help those saved.