SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: Clouds of ash spewed from Anak Krakatau, almost obscuring the volcanic island where a crater collapse at high tide on Saturday sent waves up to 5 meters (16 feet) high smashing into the coast on the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands.
“We have developed a monitoring system focused specifically on the volcanic tremors at Anak Krakatau so that we can issue early warnings,” said BMKG head Dwikorita Karnawati, adding that a two-kilometer exclusion zone had been imposed.
The confirmed death toll is 429, with at least 154 people missing. More than 1,400 people were injured and thousands of people have moved to higher ground..
The vast archipelago, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.
The latest disaster, coming during the Christmas season, evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, which killed 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.
The Saturday evening tsunami followed the collapse of an area of the volcano island of about 64 hectares (222 acres), or about 90 soccer pitches.
The waves generated engulfed fishing villages and holiday beach parties at resorts, leaving a coast littered with crushed vehicles, felled trees. Chunks of metal, wooden beams and household items have been strewn across roads and rice fields.