Tsunami 'set off by volcano' kills 222 around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait

A tsunami apparently caused by the eruption of an island volcano has killed at least 222 people around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait.

The wave, which struck at night without warning during a busy holiday weekend, swept away hotels, hundreds of houses and a group of people attending a beach concert.

Some 843 people have been reported injured and a further 28 missing when the tsunami hit on Saturday night following an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano.

  • What happened?

At least 222 people have been killed. Credit: AP

The tsunami struck during darkness, giving people little or no warning as it swept around 65ft inland.

Nine hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged.

Broken chunks of concrete and splintered sticks of wood littered hard-hit coastal areas, turning beach getaways popular with Jakarta residents into near ghost towns.

Vehicles tossed by the waves remained belly up in the rubble or were lodged in the air under collapsed roofs. Debris from thatch-bamboo shacks was strewn along beaches.

This footage, tweeted by a spokesman for Indonesia's disaster agency, shows the damage in Lampung:

  • Footage shows the Anak Krakatau volcano erupting

Seconds later, with the drummer pounding just as the next song was about to begin, the stage suddenly heaved forward and buckled under the force of the water, throwing the band and all their equipment into the audience.

The group released a statement saying their bass player, guitarist and road manager were found dead, while two other band members and the wife of one of the performers remained missing.

"The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site," the statement said. "Unfortunately, when the current receded our members are unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on."

Dramatic footage posted on social media showed an Indonesian pop band named "Seventeen" performing under a tent on a popular beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company.

Dozens of people sat listening at tables covered in white cloths while others bobbed to the music near the stage.

  • Where did the tsunami strike?

The Sunda Strait lies between Java and Sumatra. Credit: Bing

The tsunami hit around the Sunda Strait, a body of water between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.

The worst affected area was the Pandeglang region of Banten province in Java, which encompasses the Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the Disaster Management Agency said.

  • "I was afraid I would die"

Dozens of people still remain missing. Credit: ap

Witnesses described the terrifying scenes as the tsunami hit.

Azki Kurniawan, 16, said he was undergoing vocational training with a group of 30 other students at Patra Comfort Hotel when people suddenly burst into the lobby yelling: "Sea water rising!"

He said he was confused because he did not feel an earthquake, but ran to the parking lot to try to reach his motorbike. By the time he got there, it was already flooded.

"Suddenly a one-metre wave hit me," he said. "I fell down, the water separated me from my bike. I was thrown into the fence of a building about 30m from the beach and held onto the fence as strong as I could, trying to resist the water, which feels like it would drag me back into the sea.

"I cried in fear. I was afraid I would die."

A woman mourns the loss of a relative following the tsunami. Credit: AP

Lis said she was sleeping when the wave hit.

"It hit us at the same time when my son closed the hotel door," she said. "I didn't know what was hitting me, my hand is so hurt. I also got some minor wounds but my husband suffered a broken leg."

Norwegian Oystein Lund Andersen wrote on Facebook that he was taking pictures of the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano when he saw the wave coming and ran.

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

  • What could have caused the tsunami?

Scientists from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency said it could have been caused by undersea landslides from the eruption of Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island formed over years from the nearby Krakatau volcano.

The volcano erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

The 1,000ft-high volcano, about 124 miles south-west of capital Jakarta, has been erupting since June.

In July, authorities widened its no-go areas to 1.24 miles from the crater.

NASA tweeted images of the volcano spewing ash in September. Credit: NASA/Twitter

Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Centre Indonesia, said the waves were likely caused by a flank collapse - when a big section of a volcano’s slope gives way.

He said it was possible for an eruption to trigger a landslide above ground or beneath the ocean, both capable of producing a tsunami.

“Actually, the tsunami was not really big, only one metre,” said Mr Prasetya, who has closely studied Krakatau. “The problem is people always tend to build everything close to the shoreline.”

  • Why does Indonesia get so many earthquakes and tsunamis?

Anak Krakatau erupting in 2007. Credit: AP

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.

In September, more than 2,500 people were killed by a quake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, which is just east of Borneo.

Saturday's tsunami rekindled memories for some of the massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake that hit on December 26, 2004. It spawned a giant tsunami off Sumatra island in western Indonesia, killing more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, the majority in Indonesia.

Anak Krakatau remains much smaller than Krakatoa when it blew in 1883, killing more than 30,000 people. Krakatoa launched far-reaching tsunamis and created so much ash, day was turned to night in the area and a global temperature drop was recorded.

The violent explosions sank most of the island into the volcanic crater under the sea, and the area remained calm until the 1920s, when Anak Krakatau began to rise from the site. It continues to grow each year and erupts periodically

A man walks through wreckage following the tsunami. Credit: AP