JAKARTA: Juned, a 70-year-old resident of Indonesia’s tsunami-ravaged Carita Beach, has found shelter in a mosque on higher ground near his now-damaged coastal home.
He and about 50 other villagers have been sheltering in the mosque since the tsunami struck on Saturday night.
“A wave as high as the roof of my house suddenly came. We all ran to higher ground. We’re still afraid to return to our homes, and we don’t know when we can return,” said Juned. “We didn’t have time to bring anything as we fled.”
The villagers, who have been sleeping on prayer mats, occupy half the mosque, which is accessible by a damaged road. The other half is left for prayers.
Carita Beach is one of the popular resort areas that line the coast of Pandeglang district of Banten province.
It was busy with vacationers spending the long weekend ahead of Christmas when the tsunami devastated the area.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster-mitigation agency, on Wednesday said 71 bodies were found in Carita, with 74 and 53 found at the nearby Panimbang and Tanjung Lesung beaches, respectively.
The tsunami, which was up to 2.5 meters high in Carita, destroyed 443 homes and 69 hotels in Pandeglang.
The death toll from the volcano-triggered tsunami now stands at 430, with 1,495 injured, 159 missing and 21,991 displaced across five districts in Lampung and Banten provinces.
Across the Sunda Strait in Lampung Selatan district, 400 displaced families have been sheltering in a school building.
“We have enough food and medicine, but it’s very cold here and there’s no electricity so it gets dark at night,” Syahroni, a villager sheltering in the school, told news broadcaster TV One. “I hope I can get some help to rebuild my home and get back on my feet.”
The tsunami was triggered by a 64-hectare southwest flank of the Mount Anak Krakatau volcano collapsing into the sea following eruptions.
Black ash drifted 10 km west and southwest, falling on the cities of Cilegon and Serang in Banten, said the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. People are advised to stay indoors, and to wear masks or protective glasses when outside.
The tsunami caught people off guard as there was no early warning to allow those in coastal areas to evacuate. The tsunami, which witnesses said reached 4 meters high, swept inland as far as 500 meters, Sutopo said, adding that “the eastern part of Indonesia is especially prone to tsunamis.”
Despite this, the country’s early-warning system — which was installed along the Indian Ocean after the 2004 tsunami that hit Aceh province — has stopped working, with its buoys missing, vandalized or broken due to lack of maintenance, he said.