Heavy rains and mudslides limit rescues along the Java coast. Indonesia's national relief agency admits that failing to issue a tsunami warning caused many deaths.
A fresh eruption from the Anak Krakatau volcano among Indonesia’s western islands sent people running away from the Java coastline on Tuesday afternoon. The Dec. 22 explosion from the same volcano caused an immediate tsunami along the eastern Java Island coast leaving at least 429 people dead, so far.
Locals and officials in Sumur, among Java’s worst hit regions by Saturday’s tsunami, ran for higher ground after hearing an immense boom at around 2:40 p.m. local time.
Dr. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), says both the Saturday and Tuesday explosions came from the Anak Krakatau volcano located in the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra, in south western Indonesia.
Over 2,000 soldiers and rescue workers are participating in an emergency relief operation, Nugroho added.
So far, the death toll in the wake of the eruption and subsequent tsunami that reached Sumur without warning is at 429. Officials say at least 1,485 people were injured, and 882 houses and 73 hotels and villas were damaged. Around 430 boats were also damaged.
The BNPB has been criticized for initially saying there was no tsunami threat even as 4-5 meter waves crashed ashore Saturday. The same Nugroho later issued a correction and an apology, admitting the agency’s failure caused many to be killed.
A spokesperson said Monday, “The lack of a tsunami early warning system caused a lot of victims because people did not have the time to evacuate.”
Compounding tsunami cleanup and rescue problems are the torrential downpours and landslides where the oceanic waves hit hardest. It wasn’t until Monday that rescue workers began to gain access to the small villages along Java’s eastern region.
A group of about 10 residents in Cigeulis village told the Guardian they were looking through the rubble of a collapsed house by hand to search for a missing 14-year-old schoolgirl. They couldn’t find her at the site.
"We need an excavator," a local rescuer in Cigeulis village told reporters. Five of the small village's 104 residents were killed and one is still missing.
“A lot of the children are sick with fevers, headaches and they haven’t had enough water,” Rizal Alimin, a doctor working for the Aksi Cepat Tanggap humanitarian organization.
“We have less medicine than usual … It’s not healthy here for evacuees. There isn’t enough clean water. They need food and people are sleeping on the floor,” the doctor added.
Residents who live along the Java shore say they are afraid to go home because of potential eruptions and tsunamis in the coming days.
There are over 16,000 residents currently displaced around the islands, staying in schools turned into temporary shelters in some cases.