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Indonesia raises alert level on volcano

December 26, 2018

Officials have warned another tsunami could hit the stricken area as volcanic activity continues. Many residents who survived the 2004 tsunami are having to deal with flashbacks.

Anak Krakatau volcano
Image: Getty Images/AFP

After the tsunami, heavy rains

Indonesia's volcanology agency said Thursday that the alert status for the Anak Krakatau volcano, which prompted a deadly tsunami last week, had been raised to the second highest level. They also ordered the exclusion zone to be more than doubled to a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius.

Authorities have warned that the volcano's crater remains fragile, which means that another earthquake and tsunami are possible. Flights have been diverted to avoid the area.

Emergency crews on Wednesday had continued to rescue stranded residents from Indonesia's remote islands and pushed into isolated communities following a deadly tsunami in the Sunda Strait, triggered by volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau last week.

As stormy weather hindered emergency crews, authorities warned not only that another tsunami could be triggered, but residents further afield were also advised to stay indoors to avoid "ash and sand" being blown by the wind.

They were told to wear masks and goggles for protection, and to stay up to a kilometer (0.6 miles) from the coast.

Ash rising from Anak Krakatau on December 23
Ash rising from Anak Krakatau on December 23Image: Reuters/S. Air

Read more: Indonesia tsunami rescuers search for victims amid debris

Rising fatalities

Some residents did return to what was left of their homes as heavy rain fell and waves pounded the shore.

The disaster agency raised the death toll to 430, with 1,495 people injured and another 159 missing. Nearly 22,000 people have been evacuated to higher ground.

"There's a chance the number of fatalities will rise," said an agency spokesman.

Field hospital in Banten
Field hospital in BantenImage: DW/J. Küng

Failed tsunami detection

Saturday's event triggered flashbacks for some who survived a disaster that struck in 2004 off the northwestern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island.

An enormous magnitude 9.1 earthquake hit the area the morning after Christmas, creating gigantic waves that surged far inland killing some 230,000 people.

"When it happens, I always remember what we have been through," said Qurnaty who lost her home and several family members to the 2004 waves.

The country's system of tsunami detection buoys — deployed after the 2004 disaster — has not worked since 2012, with some units being stolen or vandalized. 

kw,es/kms (AP, AFP)

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