As Volcano Rumbles, Tsunami-Battered Indonesia Issues Beach Warning
By Muktita Suhartono and Richard C. Paddock
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Residents along Indonesia’s Sunda Strait coast were warned on Monday to avoid beaches for at least two days for fear that volcanic activity could generate another powerful tsunami.
Experts were still uncertain what caused the 10-foot-high tsunami on Saturday that killed at least 429 people and injured more than 1,480 on the nearby islands of Java and Sumatra. More than 16,000 people have been displaced and at least 154 are missing.
But evidence was mounting that the deadly wave resulted when volcanic activity on the island of Anak Krakatau set off a landslide on the island’s steep southwest slope.
The volcanic island, whose name means Child of Krakatau, has grown over the last century from the crater of Krakatau, or Krakatoa, and has been erupting almost daily since June.
Scientists said satellite images showed that a significant chunk of the island’s southwest flank, visible before the tsunami, had vanished after the giant wave struck the coast. That could indicate, scientists said, that a large amount of soil may have slid into the ocean, displacing enough water to create the tsunami.
“We need to determine whether a landslide actually occurred there,” said Eko Yulianto, a tsunami expert at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.
It was the second time in three months that a deadly tsunami has hit Indonesia without advance warning for the stricken communities. An earthquake and tsunami that struck Sulawesi island on Sept. 28 killed more than 2,100.
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, toured damaged areas along the Sunda Strait on Monday, some of which had been quickly cleared of debris before his visit.
In Java’s Banten Province, the hardest-hit area, he talked with survivors at a local clinic and at a camp set up to house those who had lost their homes.