BANGKOK Victims of a tsunami in Indonesia that has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands are reportedly moving to higher ground fearing another eruption from the volcano believed to have triggered the giant ocean surge.
The tsunami that that crashed into five districts on the coasts of Sumatra and Java on Saturday is thought to have been triggered by an underwater landslide after the volcano Anak Krakatau erupted.
On Sunday it erupted again stoking even more fear among at least 20,000 people aid workers say have been displaced by the disaster.
“So people are concerned whether the volcanic activity of Anak Krakatauwill still continue and create more underground, underwater landslides and create another disaster,” said Margarettha Siregar, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director at the Christian charity organization Wahana Visi Indonesia.
Siregar, who is on the ground providing support in the disaster affected areas, said the main priorities of rescue workers were food supply, especially for patients, sanitation and medical support.
Child protection was also another key concern, both for local communities and the large number of tourist families who had been vacationing when the disaster hit, Siregar said.
“There were so many tourists there and I think that’s why the disaster also caused a lot of casualties and injuries because there was so many families there due to the holiday season,” she said.
The disaster during a peak holiday period in these tourist hotspots would also seriously impact people’s livelihoods, she added.
Video footage of a stage suddenly upending and collapsing onto a rock band mid-performance on Saturday night shows just how blindsided victims were by the tsunami.
“What’s unique is that usually these follow an earthquake event…there was no earthquake related with this wave,” said Al Dwyer, Senior Regional Advisor at USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance East Asia – Pacific.
“They suspect it was related with the Anak [Krakatau] volcano off the coast and possibly an underwater landslide but what we hear from sources down there is that a wave about three feet in height came up without warning and actually travelled up inland for about 100 feet,” he said.
“It looks to be like a lot of people, again speculating not being on the ground, that a lot of people died of electrocution or just being pulled back out to sea and drowning,” he said. “So again, it doesn’t sound like much but 100 feet, you think of all those beachfront properties, the hotels, the homes and everything – it is quite a bit.”
Indonesia had not formally requested assistance, he said, and appeared to have the disaster response under control.
In September a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake off the coast of the Indonesian island Sulawesi killed more than 2,000 people.
Anak Krakatau (child of Krakatau) began forming as a new island in the Sunda strait between Java and Sumatra in 1927, following the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which killed some 30,000 people.
Source: Voice of America