Death Toll Climbs Past 370 in Indonesian Tsunami

TANJUNG LESUNG, Indonesia (AP) -
Indonesian soldiers search Monday for tsunami victims at a beach resort in Tanjung Lesung. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Body bags were laid out along the shattered coastline as Indonesian authorities stepped up efforts to collect the dead and save the injured Monday in the aftermath of a tsunami that was apparently triggered by a volcanic eruption. The death toll climbed to 373 and was certain to rise.

More than 1,400 people were injured and at least 128 were missing after the killer waves slammed into western Java and southern Sumatra without warning Saturday night, smashing homes to pieces and sweeping locals and tourists into the sea.

Hundreds of military personnel and volunteers searched along debris-strewn beaches. Where victims were found, yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

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.

Hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged by the waves. Chunks of broken concrete and splintered wood littered coastal areas.

The Indonesian Medical Association said that it sent doctors, medical supplies and equipment, and that many of the injured were in need of orthopedic and neurological surgery. It said most victims were Indonesian tourists visiting beaches during the long weekend.

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.

A spokesman for Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency acknowledged 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 sensors, which monitor the conventional earthquakes responsible for more than 90 percent of Indonesia’s tsunamis.

The tsunami was probably caused by the collapse of a big section of the volcano’s slope, said Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Center Indonesia. The 1,000-foot Anak Krakatau been erupting since June and did so again 24 minutes before the tsunami.