A total of 62 people have been confirmed dead in addition to 600 injured
The death toll from a tsunami triggered by suspected volcanic activity near the Sunda Strait in Indonesia is likely to top more than a hundred as rescuers continue to search for dozens missing in the popular tourist region.
Sixty two people were confirmed dead, almost 600 injured and dozens are missing in the two provinces hit by waves late on Saturday, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. More than 400 homes, nine hotels and 10 ships were severely damaged when the tsunami hits shores in Lampung and Banten provinces.
Indonesia’s meteorological agency is investigating the cause of tsunami, though it suspects under-sea erosion triggered by volcanic activity of Mount Anak Krakatau and moon gravitation was the cause, Nugroho said. The death toll could climb as searchers access more areas hit by the tsunami, he said.
The latest in a series of natural disasters to strike Southeast Asia’s largest economy this year is set to pose a fresh challenge to President Joko Widodo to rehabilitate the thousands of people displaced amid a presidential election campaign. The tsunami, coming as it did ahead of the peak holiday season, may also hurt the all-important tourism industry and weigh on the nation’s currency, among the worst performers in Asia this year.
Widodo, known as Jokowi, offered his condolences to the victims’ families and ordered authorities to step up relief operations and identify the damage caused by the tsunami, according to an official statement.
The tsunami hit Tanjung Lesung, a surfing heaven in the western-most part of the Java island and branded a new Bali by Jokowi’s administration. Three to four hours from capital Jakarta, Tanjung Lesung shares its coastline with Ujung Kulon National Park, and is located near factories of state-owned steel maker PT Krakatau Steel and PT Chandra Asri Petrochemical.
Fourteen people, mostly employees of state-run electricity producer PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara, were killed when a tsunami wave swept away the venue of a live music concert attended by about 250 people in Tanjung Lesung. The company said 89 people were still missing while 157 survived.
Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are prone to earthquakes because the country straddles the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines and volcanoes that causes frequent seismic upheavals. More than 1,400 people were killed and about 60,000 people displaced in Central Sulawesi in September after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the island. That was preceded by a series of deadly earthquakes early this year that rattled popular tourist destination of Lombok island, near Bali.
At least 160,000 people were killed on Sumatra island as a result of a 9.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004. More than 1,100 people were killed in another tsunami and earthquake on the same island in 2009.