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Volcano-triggered tsunami kills 429 people in Indonesia

The death toll from the tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption in Sunda Strait of western Indonesia has climbed to 429 so far, with a total of 1,459 others injured, a spokesman of the national disaster agency said on Tuesday.

The tsunami, triggered by an underwater landslide after the eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano Saturday night, destroyed 882 houses, 73 hotels and villas and scores of buildings along the coastlines, and displaced a total of 16,082 people, according to spokesman of the National Disaster Management Agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

The search and rescue mission was conducted both onshore and offshore along the strait between Java and Sumatra islands, as many victims were believed to be swept away by tidal waves into the sea, the spokesman said.

"Ships searching the victims have already retrieved several bodies in the sea," Sutopo told a press conference at the agency's headquarters.

The disaster also destroyed a sea port, and 434 ships and boats in the worst-hit Pandeglang and Serang districts in Banten province, and Lampung Selatan, Panawaran and Tenggamus districts in Lampung province.

Over 2,000 soldiers and police, along with personnel from the search and rescue office and the disaster management agency office as well as volunteers, were participating in an emergency relief operation, which still put a priority on the search and rescue of the victims, Sutopo added.

Heavy machinery equipment, tents and other necessities were badly needed in the emergency relief, he said.

"The absence and failure of early tsunami warning systems have contributed to the huge casualties because people have no opportunity to be evacuated," Sutopo said.

Mt. Anak Krakatau is surrounded by several tourist resorts, an industrial zone, a busy shipping lane and some residential areas, making the early warning system crucial in case of a tsunami.

High waves of 4-5 meters slammed into the shore on Saturday night without any early warning, Endang Permana, head of emergency department of the disaster management agency in the district, told Xinhua.

The meteorology and geophysics agency has banned activities in the coastal areas after the deadly tsunami, as the assessment of volcanic eruption risk was being taken, said Sutopo.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a massive tsunami triggered by a powerful quake hit countries along the Indian Ocean, killing 226,000 people, including 170,000 in Aceh province of northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island.

Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa, is one of the 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, a vast archipelagic nation home to 17,500 islands, sitting on a quake-prone zone of so-called "the Pacific Ring of Fire."

It is the remnant of Krakatau volcano that collapsed into small volcanic islands after a ferocious eruption in August 1883, which also prompted a devastating tsunami that killed more than 36,000 people in Banten.

Source:Xinhua  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Volcano-triggered tsunami kills 429 people in Indonesia)