Indonesia tsunami: Officials expect death toll to rise, number injured and evacuated jump

Indonesia tsunami: Officials expect death toll to rise, number injured and evacuated jump

The tsunami was Indonesia's third major natural disaster in six months
The tsunami was Indonesia's third major natural disaster in six months AFP/Sonny TUMBELAKA

JAKARTA: Indonesian officials revised the death toll of a tsunami on the Sunda Strait downwards slightly, but said that they expect the number to go up as search and rescue operations have not covered all the affected areas.

A total of 426 people were confirmed dead after the tsunami on Saturday smashed into coasts along the strait between Java and Sumatra, local officials said on Friday (Dec 28).

This is down from the toll of 430 reported earlier, as some names were double-counted at first, said officials.

More than 7,000 people were injured, jumping from 1,495, and more than 40,000 have been evacuated, up from about 22,000.

READ: Indonesia tsunami: 5-year-old boy rescued alive from car wreck

Two dozen people remain missing almost a week after the disaster.

"We're recommending that people who lived near the beach be permanently relocated," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a press briefing in Jakarta.

"But it's a last-ditch option because it's not easy with limited space and people reluctant to move away."

The emergency response period has been enforced in the Banten province, one of the worst-hit areas, for 14 days until Jan 9.  

Search and rescue efforts will continue as long as the emergency response period is in place, officials added.

READ: Indonesia tsunami: Singaporeans should defer travel to affected areas, says MFA

According to authorities, evacuation procedures are being carried out on the island closest to the rumbling Anak Krakatoa volcano that erupted over the weekend, sparking the tsunami. 

Thus far, about 1,600 people have been evacuated from the island, about half of its population of 3,000.

In total, authorities believe about 351,000 people in the region are affected by the tsunami.

READ: Another tsunami could hit Indonesia, experts warn

Evacuees walk with supplies they collected, after a tsunami, near Sumur, Banten province
Evacuees walk with supplies they collected, after a tsunami, near Sumur, Banten province, Indonesia December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Survivors gather after a volcano-triggered tsunami smashed into Indonesia's coast, killing more
Survivors gather after a volcano-triggered tsunami smashed into Indonesia's coast, killing more than 400 people AFP/Adek BERRY

Indonesia raised the alert status of the Anak Krakatoa volcano to the second-highest level on Thursday morning, imposing a 5km exclusion zone. Officials confirmed during the press conference on Friday that these measures remain the same. 

Authorities have also rerouted all flights around the erupting volcano as it spewed columns of ash into the air.

However, they said that there will be no eruption like that of Krakatoa in 1883, and Jakarta and other coastal areas outside the Sunda Strait remain safe.

READ: 'Run to the hills': Tsunami fears spark chaos in Indonesia town

In 1883, A massive eruption killed at least 36,000 people but while the Krakatoa had a 12km-wide crater then, Anak Krakatoa, an island that emerged from the area in 1927, has a crater of 2km, officials said.

The tsunami was Indonesia's third major natural disaster in 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.

Officials added that more funding, of up to US$2 billion, was needed for disaster mitigation.

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), which gets funds every two years, received about US$500 million this year.

Additional reporting by Chandni Vatvani.

Source: CNA/Agencies/aa(hm)

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