A tsunami believed to be triggered by a volcanic eruption killed at least 222 people in Indonesia during a busy holiday weekend, sweeping away hotels, hundreds of houses and a group of people attending a beach concert.
More than 800 people were reported injured after the tsunami hit around the Sunda Strait at 9:27 pm on Saturday, the Disaster Management Agency. At least 28 others were missing, but the toll could continue to rise because some areas had not yet been reached.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.
“My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lumpung provinces,” he said. “Hopefully, those who are left have patience.”
Dr Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Pakistan is “deeply saddened over the loss of precious lives [and] injuries to hundreds” in the tsunami.
“Pakistan stands by their Indonesian bretheren in these testing times,” he said on Twitter.
Tsunami without warning
Scientists, including those from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency, said on Sunday that the tsunami could have been caused by undersea landslides or those occurring above sea level on the Anak Krakatau volcano’s steep outside slope following the eruption. The volcano’s name translates to “Child of Krakatoa”, a volcanic island formed over years after one of the largest eruptions in recorded history occurred at the Krakatoa volcano more than a century ago. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.
Dramatic video posted on social media showed an Indonesian pop band named “Seventeen” performing under a tent on a popular beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company. Dozens of people sat listening at tables covered in white cloths while others bobbed to the music near the stage as bright strobe lights flashed and theatrical smoke was released.
A child could also be seen wandering through the crowd. Seconds later, with the drummer pounding just as the next song was about to begin, the stage suddenly heaved forward and buckled under the force of the water, throwing the band and all their equipment into the audience.
The group released a statement saying their bass player, guitarist and road manager were found dead, while two other band members and the wife of one of the performers remained missing.
“The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, when the current receded our members are unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on.”
Tourists were also affected during the long holiday weekend ahead of Christmas.
“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m (meters, or 50-65 feet) inland,” Norwegian Oystein Lund Andersen wrote on Facebook. The self-described photographer and volcano enthusiast said he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw a big wave come toward him.
“Next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it,” he wrote. “Managed to evacuate with my family to higher ground (through) forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of (by) the locals. Were unharmed, thankfully.”