Indonesia tsunami: Grim search for survivors continues as death toll reaches 430

The desperate search continues Wednesday for survivors of a tsunami which struck parts of western Indonesia,...

Posted: Dec 26, 2018 5:40 PM
Updated: Dec 26, 2018 5:41 PM

The desperate search continues Wednesday for survivors of a tsunami which struck parts of western Indonesia, as the country marks the 14-year anniversary of its 2004 Sumatra tragedy -- one of the most devastating ever recorded.

At least 430 people were killed Saturday when the tsunami -- sparked by landslides from an erupting volcano -- swept through the Sunda Strait, leaving about 1,500 injured and almost 22,000 displaced in villages on the Java and Sumatra coasts, officials said Wednesday.

Accidents, disasters and safety

Asia

Continents and regions

Deaths and fatalities

Disaster relief

Indonesia

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Natural disasters

Non-profit and NGO organizations

Rescue operations

Society

Southeast Asia

Tsunamis

Bone fractures

Diseases and disorders

Health and medical

Musculoskeletal disorders and injuries

Wounds and injuries

Earthquakes

Environment and natural resources

Landforms and ecosystems

Sumatra

Volcanic eruptions

Volcanoes

Dozens of people are still missing. The Indonesia Red Cross said Wednesday that it was sending emergency aid to the affected area, with 400 staff and volunteers supporting search and rescue efforts.

"Most survivors have been huddling in temporary shelters away from the shore, but have started to emerge to search for loved ones and assess damage to their property," said Arifin M. Hadi, head of disaster management at the Indonesian Red Cross.

"Our teams are seeing many broken bones and broken homes, and people who are very shaken. Indonesians have withstood a string of disasters this year and with them, so much loss and misery."

In September, more than 2,000 people were killed after a tsunami and earthquake struck western Sulawesi, with many complaining they were caught unawares. Also, over July and August, a series of earthquakes hit the northern Lombok region, sparking landslides and collapsing buildings that left more than 400 people dead.

Yet even those tolls pale in comparison to the 2004 disaster, with a 9.1-magnitude earthquake which struck near Sumatra on Boxing Day triggering a massive tsunami that hit multiple countries bordering the Indian Ocean. More than 227,000 people were killed.

No warning

In the wake of the 2004 disaster, countries including the UK, Germany and Malaysia donated detection buoys and other equipment to Indonesia to help warn of future tsunamis.

Since then, calls have been made to upgrade and replace that system. The last buoys stopped working in 2012, sparking more demands for a new system.

Multiple tsunamis have struck the country since -- including Saturday's, which came without warning, increasing the death toll and devastation.

Bapu Suwarna, a 49-year-old survivor, told CNN he first thought the sound of the tsunami was coming from a nearby music concert.

"The sound grew and I even heard crashing sounds," he said. "Seconds later I saw people running from the tsunami wave shouting 'Tsunami! Waves! Waves!'"

"It took only seconds not minutes after hearing the thunderous sounds and then the waves hit us. From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely request that the government set up an early warning system so people can anticipate an incoming tsunami. I didn't have much time, after the loud sounds were heard."

On Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered the country's Meteorology, Climatology and Geological Agency (BMKG) to purchase tsunami detectors "that can provide early warnings to community."

Widodo claimed the tsunami which struck over the weekend was beyond Indonesia's currently ability to predict.

"Usually it was preceded by earthquake. That's why the residents and visitors in Carita and Labuan beaches and Tanjung Lesung and Sumur beaches were not prepared to escape," he said.

BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawati said the agency would look to install tidal gates to detect waves near land, admitting the existing system was unable to warn of the tsunami ahead of time.

"This (tsunami) is caused by several factors. Our censors did not sound early warning because they are for tectonic activity not volcanic activity. That's why we are in coordination with other agencies such as the maritime and geology agencies," she said.

Volcano still erupting

The initial wave in Saturday's tsunami was triggered by a volcanic eruption that caused a 64-hectare (158-acre) chunk of Anak Krakatau to slide into the ocean.

The eruption came at high tide during a full moon, with the Sunda Strait, which runs between Java and Sumatra, also having a spell of high rainfall, government and rescue agencies said.

These factors led to a wave 3 meters (10 feet) high crashing through the Strait, sweeping beachfront homes and hotels away and killing hundreds of people.

Anak Krakatau, located about 25 to 30 miles (40 to 50 kilometers) from the Java and Sumatra coastlines, continues to erupt, leaving many residents fearing that more monster waves could hit Indonesia's shores.

Residents should be vigilant as long as the volcano remains active, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Florence
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 65°
Fayetteville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 61°
Decatur
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Scottsboro
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 234080

Reported Deaths: 3459
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30620491
Mobile19306358
Tuscaloosa12501148
Madison12410146
Montgomery12040232
Shelby980576
Baldwin826984
Lee753964
Morgan618247
Calhoun5997113
Etowah590564
Marshall581953
Houston507038
DeKalb463535
Cullman412636
Limestone404544
St. Clair398455
Elmore393961
Lauderdale382953
Walker349096
Talladega335942
Colbert296341
Jackson291924
Blount276336
Autauga263439
Franklin244833
Coffee233415
Dale226654
Dallas220231
Russell21803
Chilton216937
Covington212533
Escambia194431
Tallapoosa169290
Chambers168048
Pike155514
Clarke155419
Marion134535
Winston123723
Lawrence122436
Geneva11748
Marengo116924
Barbour116110
Pickens115318
Bibb114217
Butler113741
Randolph99821
Cherokee98924
Hale91631
Washington90018
Clay89423
Fayette84416
Henry8426
Lowndes78729
Monroe76811
Cleburne74414
Crenshaw70330
Macon70020
Bullock69019
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Lamar6267
Wilcox62418
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene40217
Coosa3074
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 344550

Reported Deaths: 4301
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby45771637
Davidson40820407
Knox17590140
Rutherford16907150
Hamilton15861136
Williamson1066473
Sumner9141134
Wilson705574
Out of TN692847
Montgomery622381
Sullivan609389
Putnam574379
Washington5596100
Maury554958
Blount512356
Madison5108105
Bradley483233
Sevier468131
Unassigned437714
Robertson357351
Tipton348736
Hamblen331557
Dyer308649
Gibson301161
Greene285971
Anderson273725
Dickson272827
Coffee263041
Bedford254428
Carter253453
Obion252247
Lawrence250732
Cumberland242335
McMinn234355
Warren227018
Hardeman221037
Roane220424
Loudon218418
Jefferson215331
Fayette214437
Weakley207734
Lauderdale200321
Monroe199042
Franklin193632
Trousdale189412
Hawkins181434
Wayne180810
Henderson178730
Macon176427
Hardin171825
White167517
Marshall165317
Carroll164732
Haywood159629
Rhea157130
Cocke154928
Overton150534
Cheatham149416
Campbell147621
Lincoln146313
Henry144617
Smith138319
Johnson137621
McNairy137632
Giles135643
Fentress117119
Lake11515
Bledsoe11425
Hickman111517
Crockett111025
DeKalb108920
Marion103917
Chester98819
Scott9587
Grainger92315
Decatur91512
Unicoi78525
Benton76114
Claiborne7559
Grundy74214
Lewis71514
Cannon7072
Union6915
Morgan6726
Jackson66010
Humphreys6537
Polk63214
Houston57319
Stewart55414
Clay52518
Sequatchie4965
Meigs46112
Perry46020
Moore3692
Pickett36612
Van Buren3422
Hancock1473

Community Events