In this Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, photo, People search for relatives among the bodies of tsunami victims in Carita, Indonesia. The tsunami that hit the coasts of Indonesian islands along the Sunda Strait was not big but it was destructive. The waves smashed onto beaches in the darkness Saturday night without warning, ripping houses and hotels from their foundations in seconds and sweeping terrified concertgoers into the sea. (AP Photo/Fauzy Chaniago)

Sombre Christmas, prayers in tsunami-hit Indonesian region

The death toll had climbed to 429 on Tuesday with more than 1,400 people injured and at least 128 missing

Christmas celebrations traditionally filled with laughter and uplifting music were replaced by sombre prayers for tsunami victims in an area slammed by waves that hit without warning, killing more than 420 people and leaving thousands homeless in disaster-prone Indonesia.

Pastor Markus Taekz said Tuesday his Rahmat Pentecostal Church in the hard-hit area of Carita did not celebrate with joyous songs. Instead, he said only about 100 people showed up for the Christmas Eve service, usually attended by double that number. Many congregation members had already left the area for the capital, Jakarta, or other locations away from the disaster zone.

“This is an unusual situation because we have a very bad disaster that killed hundreds of our sisters and brothers in Banten,” he said, referring to the Javanese province. “So our celebration is full of grief.”

Church leaders called on Christians across Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, to pray for victims of the tsunami.

The death toll had climbed to 429 on Tuesday with more than 1,400 people injured and at least 128 missing after the tsunami slammed into parts of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Military troops, government personnel and volunteers were searching along debris-strewn beaches. Where victims were found, yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead. Chunks of broken concrete and splintered wood littered the coast where hundreds of homes and hotels had stood.

The waves followed an eruption and apparent landslide on Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Krakatoa,” a volcanic island that formed in the early part of the 20th century near the site of the cataclysmic 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who faces what promises to be a tough re-election campaign next year, vowed to have all tsunami-detection equipment replaced or repaired.

Nugroho acknowledged on Twitter that the country’s network of detection buoys had been out of order since 2012 because of vandalism and budget shortfalls.

But the head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, Dwikorita Karnawati, said the tsunami was caused by Krakatau’s volcanic activity and so could not have been picked up by the agency’s sensors, which monitor conventional earthquakes responsible for more than 90 per cent of Indonesia’s tsunamis.

Karnawati said the tsunami was probably caused by the collapse of a big section of the volcano’s slope. Anak Krakatau been erupting since June and did so again 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and home to 260 million people, lies along the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

The massive eruption of Krakatoa killed more than 30,000 people and hurled so much ash that it turned day to night in the area and reduced global temperatures. Thousands were believed killed by a quake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island in September, and an earlier quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people in August.

___

Associated Press writers Margie Mason and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

Niniek Karmini, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Development permit approved for new auto dealership in Nanaimo

City council votes in favour of Mitsubishi building design proposal, including variances

Nanaimo United play in a pandemic, win Jackson Cup championship

Div. 1 men defeat Lakehill 2-1 to cap off soccer season after a six-month shutdown

Ride-hailing service nearly ready to start up in Nanaimo

Lucky to Go planning to launch Oct. 1

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley seeks reelection

Routley has served as MLA for the area since 2005.

VIJHL season could start Oct. 1, says league president

League awaiting final approval from local health authorities and viaSport

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

City reviewing plans for huge Sandstone project in south Nanaimo

Seacliff Properties says it’s been told to be ready for a public hearing this fall

Most Read