Volcano-triggered tsunami kills 281 in Indonesia

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An excavator cleans road from debris after a tsunami hit Sunda Strait in Pandeglang, Banten province, in Indonesia, Dec. 23, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

A devastating tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption in Indonesia has killed 281 people and wounded 1,016 others along the coastal areas of Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, the national disaster agency said on Monday.

As the search and rescue for victims of Saturday night's tsunami, caused by an underwater landslide after the eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano, were underway, rescuers believed many victims remained trapped under the debris swept by sea waves, spokesman of the National Disaster Management Agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

"Evacuation of residents and search for the victims continue. It is believed that many victims were trapped under the ruins of collapsed buildings and materials swept by the tsunami," Sutopo told Xinhua.

The disaster area of the tsunami, the spokesman said, has extended to five districts -- Pandeglang and Serang districts in Banten province, and Lampung Selaltan, Panawaran and Tenggamus districts in Lampung province.

The catastrophe destroyed 611 houses, 69 hotels and villa, 420 ships and boats along the coast, Sutopo said.

In Panawaran district, some 231 displaced people were taking shelter in evacuation centers, according to the spokesman.

A joint task force, including thousands of soldiers, police, and personnel from the search and rescue office, the disaster management office and volunteers, was racing against time in emergency relief, particularly the search efforts, said Sutopo.

Heavy machinery equipment had been deployed in the tsunami-hit areas to help the search and rescue operation, said Sutopo.

Most bodies of victims were found in Pandeglang district, where the tsunami struck tourist destinations and residential areas when many tourists were enjoying the night along the coast.

"When the tragedy occurred, many people were spending their time along the coastal areas of Pandeglang," Sutopo said.

The waves of four to five meters slammed into the shore, head of emergency department of the disaster management agency in the district Endang Permana, told Xinhua.

The meteorology and geophysics agency has banned activities in the coastal areas after the deadly tsunami, as the assessment of volcanic eruption risk was being taken, said Sutopo.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a massive tsunami triggered by a powerful quake hit countries along the Indian Ocean, killing 226,000 people dead, including 170,000 in Aceh province of northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island.

Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa, is one of the 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, a vast archipelagic nation home to 17,500 islands and sits on a quake-prone zone of so-called "the Pacific Ring of Fire".

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