World

Volcano tsunami’ hits Indonesia after Krakatoa eruption

At least 43 people have been killed and 584 injured after a tsunami hit the coast around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, government officials say.

The country’s disaster management agency says two people are missing, and dozens of buildings were damaged.

It says the possible cause of the tsunami were undersea landslides after the Krakatoa volcano erupted.

The Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.

The deaths were reported in the Pandeglang, South Lampung and Serang regions.

Officials warn that the death toll is likely to rise further. The disaster management agency said high seas as a result of the full moon may also have contributed to the strength of the wave.

There were two waves’ – eyewitness account

Oystein Lund Andersen, Norwegian volcano photographer

I was on the beach. I was alone, my family were sleeping in a room.

I was trying to photograph the erupting Krakatoa volcano.

Earlier in the evening, there was quite heavy eruption activity. But just prior to the waves hitting the beach, there was no activity at all. It was just dark out there.

And suddenly I saw this wave coming, and I had to run.

There were two waves. The first wave wasn’t that strong – I could run from it.

I ran straight to the hotel, where my wife and my son were sleeping.

And I woke them up… and I heard a bigger wave coming. I looked out of the window when the second wave hit. It was much bigger.

The wave passed the hotel. Cars were pushed off the road.

We and other people at the hotel went straight to the forest (on higher ground) next to the hotel. And we’re still up on the hill now.

Footage posted by the head of the disaster agency showed the aftermath of the tsunami, with flooded streets and an overturned car.

He had earlier posted footage of water rushing in and local residents trying to flee in panic.

Emergency officials are now investigating whether the tsunami was caused by Anak Krakatoa, a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait.

Volcanologist Jess Phoenix told the BBC that when volcanoes erupt, hot magma pushes underground and can displace and break through colder rock. This can trigger a landslide.

But because part of Krakatoa is underwater, she said “instead of just causing a landslide, you get an undersea landslide which pushes water as it moves.” This can then cause a tsunami.

In September, more than 2,000 people died when a powerful earthquake struck just off the central Indonesian island of Sulawesi, setting off a tsunami that engulfed the coastal city of Palu.

bbc

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