Indonesian rescuers used drones and dogs Tuesday to aid searches for more than 100 people still missing after tsunami waves slammed into the west coast of Java and southern Sumatra on Saturday, killing 429 people.
The waves left another 1,400 people injured, while thousands more, having fled to higher ground, were displaced. The tsunami, which struck without warning, swept over popular beaches and engulfed tourist hotels and coastal settlements.
The waves may have been caused by a massive underwater landslide that followed eruptions by Anak Krakatoa volcano, located in the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra. Authorities cautioned that continued volcanic activity and high tides meant more damaging waves could strike.
A false alarm on Tuesday sent panicked coastal residents fleeing.
The chief of the Geological Agency, Rudy Suhendar, told VOA’s Indonesian service that it was still investigating what caused the tsunami.
Jakarta resident Suhada was fishing on Carita Beach and visiting his family for the weekend when he ran from what he described as three waves between 10 and 11 p.m. Saturday. Suhada was able to flee to higher ground with his family.
"Thank God I could save my family," he told VOA.
Disaster agency head Endan Permana told local media that many people were missing in the tourist locale Tanjung Lesung, Banten province, near Jakarta.
Meanwhile, church leaders in mostly Muslim Indonesia called on Christians in the country to pray for tsunami victims.
Pastor Rusman Anita Sitorus presided over a service Tuesday at the Rahmat Carita Pentecostal Church near Carita, one of the hardest-hit areas.
"After this incident, God let us continue to serve the people, and especially this is a chance to serve God better," Sitorus said.
Saturday’s tsunami was the latest in a series of disasters to strike Indonesia.
Laura Ngo-Fontain, a spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told VOA the government had learned some lessons from earlier incidents and their capacity to respond had "expanded exponentially."
Ngo-Fontain said the aid group was providing blankets and tarps and organizing the acquisition of drinking water and access to medical services. She said doctors were needed because many of the injured had broken bones.
On Sept. 28, a quake and tsunami hit near the city of Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, killing more than 2,500 and displacing about 70,000.
On Dec. 26, 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.
VOA’s Indonesian service and Ira Mellman contributed to this report.
Source: VOA news