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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 April 2019

Indonesian tsunami death toll tops 400 with thousands displaced

At least 16,000 people had their homes destroyed by the deadly wave while about 1,500 suffered serious injuries

The death toll from a tsunami along Indonesia’s Sunda Strait exceeded 400 as rescuers searched through the wreckage of hundreds of hotels and houses flattened by the deadly wave.

At least 16,000 people have been displaced and about 1,500 injured when the tsunami struck the Indonesian provinces Lampung and Banten late on Saturday, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

The damage is complicating searches in several areas and the number of fatalities could rise from 429 as efforts persist, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency, said.

Indonesia's government set a 14-day emergency response period for Pandeglang, a regency in Banten province, which was the worst-hit, Mr Nugroho said. South Lampung will have a seven-day one, he said.

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The calamity was likely triggered by flank collapse – where a section of the volcano gives way – in the south and southwest sides of Mount Anak Krakatoa, according to Indonesia's energy ministry.

Saturday's tsunami hit Tanjung Lesung, a surfing haven in the westernmost part of the Java island that’s been branded a new Bali by President Joko Widodo’s government. Three to four hours from capital Jakarta, Tanjung Lesung shares its coastline with Ujung Kulon National Park, and is near factories of state-owned steel maker PT Krakatoa Steel and PT Chandra Asri Petrochemical.

The latest in a series of natural disasters to strike South-east Asia’s largest economy this year is set to pose a fresh challenge for Mr Widodo as he works amid a presidential election campaign to help the thousands of people displaced.

The tsunami, coming before the peak holiday season, may also hurt Indonesia's all-important tourism industry and weigh on the nation’s currency, among the worst performers in Asia this year.

Updated: December 25, 2018 02:19 PM

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