JAKARTA, Indonesia, December 23, 2018 (ENS) – Hundreds of people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured or missing after a tsunami hit the island nation of Indonesia without warning Sunday following a volcanic eruption and underwater landslides kilometers offshore.

At least 222 people died, more than 843 were injured and 30 people were missing after the tsunami wave came smashing ashore on the northwest coast of Java, one of the largest islands in the country, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of public relations for the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

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Map of the tsunami location in Indonesia, at the wextern end of the island of Java. (Map courtesy Government of Indonesia)

The tsunami was likely due to underwater landslides that came on the back of the eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait, about 60 miles off the coast of Java, Indonesia’s Meteorological, Climatological and Geological Agency said. The tsunami struck 24 minutes after the volcanic eruption.

There are no foreign national casualties; all are Indonesian citizens. said Nugroho. These victims and damage included four affected districts – Pandeglang, Serang, South Lampung and Tanggamus Regencies.

The number of victims and damage caused by the tsunami that hit coastal areas in the Sunda Strait continues to increase because not all victims have been evacuated, not all Puskesmas have reported casualties, and not all locations can be recorded as a whole. This condition causes the data to change, said Nugroho.

Material damage included 556 damaged housing units, nine heavily damaged hotel units, 60 damaged culinary stalls, 350 damaged boats, said Nugroho.

Many victims are tourists and local people, he said. The coast along tourist areas of Tanjung Lesung Beach, Pantai Sumur, Teluk Lada Beach, Panimbang Beach and Carita Beach are many tourists who were then hit by the tsunami.

The most affected area is the Pandeglang region of Banten province in Java, which includes Ujung Kulon National Park at the westernmost tip of Java and surrounding popular beaches. Of the deaths, 33 were in Pandeglang.

Ujung Kulon was Indonesia’s first proposed national park and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 for containing the largest remaining lowland rainforest in Java.

The 1883 eruption of the nearby volcano Krakatoa and its tsunami wiped out many settlements in the later park area, and they were never repopulated.

Today, emergency handling continues. The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management, BNPB, together with the Indonesian National Armed Forces, the Indonesian National Police, the National Search and Rescue Agency, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, and related Ministries / Agencies continue to assist Local Governments in emergency response.

Heavy equipment is being deployed to help evacuate the injured. Currently working are five excavators, two loaders, two dump trucks and six water tankers. Support for heavy equipment will be added, government agencies say.

The Provincial Government and District Government continue to coordinate with various parties. Posts, health posts, public kitchens and refugee posts were established to deal with survivors.

Letters of condolence are coming in from many world leaders.

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