Dozens dead in Sunda Strait region


A powerful tsunami has smashed the coastline of Indonesia, killing at least 23 people and injuring 165 more.

Waves struck on Saturday evening local time in the Sunda Strait region, which is between the islands of Java and Sumatra.

Initial indications are that the tsunami was caused by undersea landslides following the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano.

The death toll sits at 23, with victims in the Pandeglang, South Lampung and Serang regions, but officials warn that number could rise.

Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said at least 288 people were injured, and dozens of buildings were damaged.

Several people are believed to be missing, the agency said.

Disaster authorities initially assured people there was no tsunami risk and told locals not to panic, and that there was tidal wave activities as a result of the full moon.

They later issued a clarification, admitting that a tsunami had indeed struck.

On Twitter, the boss of the agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, apologised and said the incorrect initial information was based on available data.

“The initial error occurred because of referring data and information from various sources that there was no tsunami,” a translation of the message read.

“There was no earthquake that triggered the tsunami at that time. That is the difficulty in determining the cause of the tsunami at the beginning of the incident.”

Rescue crews are heading to the area to assist locals. It’s not known if any Australians were in the area at the time.

Vision shared on social media shows locals running in fear as waves swamp the coastline, inundating restaurants and hotels.

“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m (meters) inland,” Oystein Lund Andersen wrote on Facebook.

He said he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw a big wave coming towards him.

“Next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it. Managed to evacuate with my family to higher ground trough forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of (by) the locals. Were unharmed, thankfully.”

In September, an estimated 2000 people were killed by a quake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi.

On Boxing Day in 2004, a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a number of tsunami waves that killed an estimated 228,000 across 14 countries.

With wires

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