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Indonesia evacuates over 40,000 amid tsunami threat

Massive evacuations have been ordered from the coast along Indonesia's western Sunda Strait after warning of a possible second tsunami triggered by eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano whose alert level has been upgraded.

The Indonesian disaster agency on Friday put the total number of evacuees from danger zones at 40,386 people in the provinces of Banten and Lampung, from some 20,000 in the previous day, spokesman of the National Disaster Management Agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

A joint task force has been conducting the search and rescue for the tsunami victims trapped under the debris after the volcano-triggered tsunami on Saturday night, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the number of those injured in the tsunami jumped sharply from over 1,400 people to a total of 7,202 people, according to the spokesman.

Indonesian volcanologist and disaster authorities have advised locals and tourists not to have activities within a radius of 1 km from the coast along the strait between Java and Sumatra islands for fear of fresh tsunami.

During Saturday's tsunami, tidal waves up to 5 meters high destroyed at least 1,296 houses, 78 hotels and villas, 434 ships and other infrastructure, with the worst-hit area in Pandeglang district of Banten province.

So far over 400 were confirmed dead in the tsunami, which also hit Serang district in Banten province, and Panawaraan district and Tenggamus district in Lampung province.

The casualty figures may further go up, as many victims have not been recovered and some affected areas have not been reached by search and rescue teams, said the spokesman.

More than 2,000 soldiers and police along with search and rescue personnel as well as volunteers are engaging in emergency relief, with the priority of searching for and rescuing the victims, Sutopo added.

Volcanologists raised the alert of Anak Krakatau volcano to the second highest level and extended the no-go zone to 5 km from the crater from the previous 2 km after its eruption triggered Saturday's tsunami.

Mt. Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa in English, has been in "strombolian" eruption since July, meaning that the volcanic activity produced frequent moderate eruptions, according to volcanologists.

Rains of volcanic ash fell in parts of Banten province, including its provincial capital, Wednesday, forcing aviation authorities to reroute flights.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has promised to purchase all devices for the crucial early warning system to avoid danger triggered by the volcano, which is surrounded by tourist resorts, the country's strategic industrial zone, a busy shipping lane and residential areas.

Saturday's tsunami devastated 312.75 km of coastal areas along the Sunda Strait, according to the meteorology and geophysics agency.

A satellite image showed that most of the flank areas at the southwest of Anak Krakatau volcano collapsed just before the tsunami. The flank collapse covered an area of 64 hectares and caused underwater landslides, according to the country's meteorology and geophysics agency.

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

Source:Xinhua  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:Indonesia evacuates over 40,000 amid tsunami threat)