Experts warn that ongoing activity at Krakatoa volcano could trigger further tsunami waves over the next days along the Sunda Strait and affect coasts of Southern Sumatra and Western Java.
ndonesian rescuers raced to find survivors Monday after a volcano-triggered tsunami killed at least 281 people, with experts warning the devastated region could be slammed by more deadly waves.
The powerful tsunami struck without any warning on Saturday night, sweeping over popular beaches of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java and inundating tourist hotels and coastal settlements.
Experts say Saturday’s tsunami was likely triggered by a massive underwater landslide following an eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano in the Sunda Strait. However, there was no warning signal prior to the tsunami wave. Unlike those caused by earthquakes, which trigger alert systems, such tsunamis give authorities very little time to warn residents of the impending threat.
Talking to France news agency AFP, Richard Teeuw, a geohazard expert from the University of Portsmouth in England, said the eruption and landslide may well have destabilized Krakatau volcano, heightening the risk of another tsunami.
“The likelihood of further tsunamis in the Sunda Strait will remain high while Anak Krakatoa volcano is going through its current active phase because that might trigger further submarine landslides,” Teeuw said.
Rescue teams used their bare hands, diggers and other heavy equipment to haul debris from the stricken area around the Sunda Strait, as thousands were evacuated to higher ground.
Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the wave that left a tangled mess of corrugated steel roofing, timber and rubble at Carita beach, a popular spot for day-trippers on the west coast of Java.
Saturday night tsunami was the third major natural disaster to strike Indonesia in the space of six months, following a series of powerful earthquakes on the island of Lombok in July and August and a quake-tsunami in September that killed around 2,200 people in Palu on Sulawesi island, with thousands more missing and presumed dead.
Anak Krakatoa (“Baby Krakatoa” in Bahasa Indonesia), which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, emerged around 1928 in the crater left by Krakatoa, whose massive eruption in 1883 killed at least 36,000 people and affected global weather patterns for years.
Oxfam and other international aid agencies said they would help in the aftermath, as local rescuers evacuated the injured and set up tarpaulins to provide shelter.