A tsunami struck beaches along Indonesia’s Sunda Straits late Saturday local time. The death toll has risen to 168 people with about 745 injured, the country’s disaster agency said Sunday.
The casualties occurred in three regions — South Lampung in Sumatra and the Serang and Pandeglang regions of Java, west of the capital Jakarta — along the Sunda Strait, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBP), said in a statement.
Hundreds of homes, nine hotels and 10 boats were damaged, BNBP said Sunday.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reported an eruption of Krakatoa, a local volcano, about 9 p.m. Saturday local time, and the tsunami struck a short time later, about 9:30 p.m.
The cause of the tsunami was the result of a combination of undersea landslides after the eruption of Mount Anak Krakatoa and the tidal wave caused by the full moon, according to BMKG.
The number of casualties is expected to rise because officials have not been able to contact all the areas affected by the tsunami, the statement said. A highway connecting Serang and Pandeglang had also been damaged.
Disaster agency head Endan Permana told local media that many people were missing in tourist locale of Tanjung Lesung, Banten province, near Jakarta, and that police were providing assistance, as emergency workers had not yet arrived in the area, according to Reuters news agency.
Almost every day 20-year-old Rizaldian Syahputra puts on his blue uniform, laces up his high boots and leaves his wooden house on stilts for a job many nature-lovers would envy. Giant Lizard
But by next year, he may no longer be employed.
Syahputra works as a wildlife guide at Komodo National Park on the eastern Indonesian island of Komodo, taking visitors around the park on foot to get up close to the leathery Komodo dragons, the world’s largest living lizard species.
The Indonesian government plans to close the island to the public from January next year in a bid to conserve the rare reptiles.
The scheme also involves moving about 2,000 villagers off the island. Authorities are holding talks with community leaders on how to relocate the residents, Josef Nae Soi, deputy governor of the province of East Nusa Tenggara, told Reuters recently.
It is hoped that closing the island to tourists will cut the risk of poaching and allow a recovery in the numbers of the animals’ preferred prey, such as deer, buffalo and wild boar.
The island could reopen after a year, but the plan is to make it a premium tourist destination, Soi said.
Syahputra, who says he enjoys his job because of his passion for nature and conservation, shares the fears of many others on the island who rely on tourism for a living.
“The closure is definitely something that makes us unhappy,” he said.
“If we really have to do it, I hope we can find a middle ground on the solution, not closing the whole island but just a certain area.”
More than 176,000 tourists visited Komodo National Park, a conservation area between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, in 2018. The whole area was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
About 1,700 Komodo dragons are estimated to live on Komodo island. Other islands in the national park that are home to more than 1,400 of the giant lizards, such as nearby Rinca and Padar, will remain open to tourists.
Villagers who have lived on Komodo island for generations are unsurprisingly opposed to the idea of having to leave.
“We have been living as one for years with this village,” said resident Dahlia, who gave only one name. “The graves of my father and ancestors are here. If we move, who will take care of those graves?” (VOA)