In this Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, photo, People search for relatives among the bodies of tsunami victims in Carita, Indonesia. The tsunami that hit the coasts of Indonesian islands along the Sunda Strait was not big but it was destructive. The waves smashed onto beaches in the darkness Saturday night without warning, ripping houses and hotels from their foundations in seconds and sweeping terrified concertgoers into the sea. (AP Photo/Fauzy Chaniago)

Sombre Christmas, prayers in tsunami-hit Indonesian region

The death toll had climbed to 429 on Tuesday with more than 1,400 people injured and at least 128 missing

Christmas celebrations traditionally filled with laughter and uplifting music were replaced by sombre prayers for tsunami victims in an area slammed by waves that hit without warning, killing more than 420 people and leaving thousands homeless in disaster-prone Indonesia.

Pastor Markus Taekz said Tuesday his Rahmat Pentecostal Church in the hard-hit area of Carita did not celebrate with joyous songs. Instead, he said only about 100 people showed up for the Christmas Eve service, usually attended by double that number. Many congregation members had already left the area for the capital, Jakarta, or other locations away from the disaster zone.

“This is an unusual situation because we have a very bad disaster that killed hundreds of our sisters and brothers in Banten,” he said, referring to the Javanese province. “So our celebration is full of grief.”

Church leaders called on Christians across Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, to pray for victims of the tsunami.

The death toll had climbed to 429 on Tuesday with more than 1,400 people injured and at least 128 missing after the tsunami slammed into parts of western Java and southern Sumatra islands, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Military troops, government personnel and volunteers were searching along debris-strewn beaches. Where victims were found, yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead. Chunks of broken concrete and splintered wood littered the coast where hundreds of homes and hotels had stood.

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.

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.

Nugroho acknowledged on Twitter 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 the agency’s sensors, which monitor conventional earthquakes responsible for more than 90 per cent of Indonesia’s tsunamis.

Karnawati said the tsunami was probably caused by the collapse of a big section of the volcano’s slope. Anak Krakatau been erupting since June and did so again 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and home to 260 million people, lies along the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

The massive eruption of Krakatoa killed more than 30,000 people and hurled so much ash that it turned day to night in the area and reduced global temperatures. Thousands were believed killed by a quake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island in September, and an earlier quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people in August.

___

Associated Press writers Margie Mason and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

Niniek Karmini, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

PHOTOS: Cat owners in Chilliwack celebrate National Kitten Day

Chilliwack Progress readers share photos of their favourite felines on National Kitten Day

Child falls down Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack, crews on scene

An 11-year-old boy fell over the falls about 25 to 30 feet and has suffered a head injury

Foodies flock to drive-thru food truck fest in Chilliwack

The Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival takes place this weekend at Chilliwack Heritage Park

UPDATE: Four-vehicle collision snarls eastbound highway traffic in Chilliwack

Collision west of Lickman Road on Highway 1 includes three vehicles plus motorcycle

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read