Indonesian government workers and volunteers yesterday searched debris-strewn beaches for survivors and bodies, while families tried to identify their loved ones and grieved for the dead after a nighttime tsunami struck without warning, killing more than 280 people.
The waves that swept terrified locals and tourists into the sea on Saturday night along the Sunda Strait followed an eruption and apparent landslide on Anak Krakatoa, or “Child of Krakatoa,” one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands.
Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that as of yesterday morning, 281 deaths had been confirmed and at least 1,016 people were injured.
Dozens remained missing from the disaster areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, and the numbers could increase once authorities hear from all stricken areas.
The Indonesian Medical Association of the worst-affected Banten region said that it sent doctors, medical supplies and equipment, and that many of the injured were in need of neuro and orthopedic surgery.
It said that most patients are domestic tourists who were visiting beaches during the long weekend ahead of Christmas.
It was the second deadly tsunami to hit seismically active Indonesia this year. A powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Sulawesi Island in September, giving residents a brief warning before the waves struck.
The worst-affected area was the Pandeglang region of Java’s Banten Province, which encompasses Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the disaster agency said.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrived at the disaster area by helicopter. On Sunday, he expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.
In the city of Bandar Lampung on Sumatra island, hundreds of residents took refuge at the governor’s office, while at the popular resort area of Anyer beach on Java, some survivors wandered in the debris.
Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.
Scientists, including those from the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency, said the tsunami could have been caused by landslides — either above ground or under the water — on the steep slope of the erupting volcano. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.
The 305m-high Anak Krakatoa lies on an island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, linking the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea. It has been erupting since June and did so again about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.
The volcanic island formed over years after the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, one of the largest, most devastating in recorded history. That disaster killed more than 30,000 people, launched far-reaching tsunamis and created so much ash that day was turned to night in the area and a global temperature drop was recorded.
Most of the island sank into a volcanic crater under the sea and the area remained calm until the 1920s, when Anak Krakatoa began to rise from the site. It continues to grow each year and erupts periodically.
Gegar Prasetya, cofounder of the Tsunami Research Center Indonesia, said that Saturday’s tsunami was likely caused by a flank collapse — when a big section of a volcano’s slope gives way.
It is possible for an eruption to trigger a landslide above ground or beneath the ocean, both capable of producing waves, he said.
“Actually, the tsunami was not really big, only 1m,” Prasetya said. “The problem is people always tend to build everything close to the shoreline.”
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
NO SIGN OF WAR: Only if Taiwanese showed determination to defend the nation would others be willing to help in the event of a Chinese attack, the premier said Should China launch a war against Taiwan, the military would fight to the last standing person, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said yesterday, adding that the nation has fully fleshed-out defense strategies. “Beijing has continued its acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs that it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Yen said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Asked how long Taiwan could withstand an attack from China, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: “Taiwan will not fall.” Any belligerent force that initiates acts of war would pay a heavy price, and so too would Beijing,
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a
MOTHERLAND? Taiwanese who take part in China’s National Day celebrations could be fined NT$100,000 to NT$500,000 if found to have contravened Taiwanese laws The Ministry of Culture yesterday cautioned China-based Taiwanese artists against breaching Taiwanese law by taking part in China’s National Day celebrations. The ministry issued the statement following media reports that Ouyang Nana (歐陽娜娜) is to sing a popular Chinese patriotic song titled My Motherland (我的祖國), and Angela Chang (張韶涵) is to sing Protect (守護) with Chinese entertainers at an event to mark China’s National Day on Thursday. The Mainland Affairs Council is investigating whether such behavior contravenes regulations in the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), the ministry said. If the behavior involves matters