Jakarta: Efforts to collect hundreds of bodies and save the injured were stepped up in Indonesia on Monday following the country’s latest tsunami, as scientists collected evidence on how a volcanic eruption triggered the weekend tragedy. Casualty figures from Saturday night’s disaster continued to rise, with at least 373 people confirmed dead and more than 1,400 injured.
The death toll was certain to rise further, with 128 people still missing from the affected areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, where hundreds of military personnel and volunteers were conducting their grim search along debris-strewn beaches. Where victims were found, yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.
The waves that swept locals and tourists into the sea along the Sunda Strait followed an eruption and apparent landslide on Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Krakatoa,” one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands.
Hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged by the waves. Broken chunks of concrete and splintered sticks of wood littered hard-hit coastal areas, turning popular beach areas into near ghost towns. Debris from thatch-bamboo shacks was strewn along the coast.
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 orthopedic and neurological surgery. It said most victims 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.