Hundreds die when tsunami rocks Indonesian coast during crowded holiday

Hundreds die when tsunami rocks Indonesian coast during crowded holiday

Hundreds of homes and hotels were swept away and the death toll surpassed 200 and was rising Sunday after a tsunami rocked a coastal area of Indonesia.

The hardest hit area, the Pandeglang District on the island of Java, reported 164 deaths, 624 people injured and 2 people missing, according to the Indonesia Disaster Mitigation Agency. The agency said the number of dead and the breadth of the destruction was likely to rise as searchers descend on the damaged areas.

The area is a tourist mecca, and the agency said many of the victims were visiting area beaches for the holidays. The equatorial Southeast Asian nation, the world’s fourth most populated, is made up of thousands of volcanic islands.

“We are preparing an air survey and mapping with the help of the Indonesian military,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

The agency said 222 people were known to have died. Another 843 people were injured and 30 people were missing. All the fatalities in the initial counts were Indonesian, the agency said. The government was setting up food and water distribution stations and mobile medical facilities.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he ordered all government agencies to conduct emergency response measures aimed at rescuing survivors and saving lives.

“My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lumpung provinces,” he said. “Hopefully, those who are left have patience.”

Footage posted on social media from an outdoor concert by the band Seventeen shows a raucous audience clapping and dancing moments before the stage collapses as the tsunami hits.

The band’s lead singer, Riefian Fajarsyah, later posted on Instagram that some band members had died and others were missing. His wife was also among those unaccounted for.

“Please pray that my wife Dylan (Sahara) will be found soon,” he said.

The band later announced a second death. At least one other band member and another member of the band’s crew also were missing.

“The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site,” the band’s statement said. “Unfortunately, when the current receded our members are unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on.”

Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said it recorded a series of tremors and an eruption of Mount Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait near Java. But the agency said it was not certain the eruption triggered the tsunami.

Most major telecommunications companies in the region said their networks were holding up well. XL Axiata group spokesman Tri Wahyuni told the Antara news agency the network was “safe and normal so far.”

The tsunami struck the area around Sundra Strait, which connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean, shortly before 9:30 p.m. Saturday. 

“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed (more than 50 feet) inland,” Norwegian Oystein Lund Andersen wrote on Facebook.  “Next the wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it.”

He said he and his family fled to higher ground through a forest, where villagers aided them.

“Kind of crazy having experienced a tsunami,” he said. “And I have now officially even outrun one.”

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