Tsunami Strikes Indonesia Without Warning, Killing Over 220


JAKARTA, Indonesia — A frantic search was underway on Sunday for survivors of a tsunami in Indonesia’s Sunda Strait that struck without warning on the country’s two most-populous islands, killing at least 222 people, injuring more than 800 others and destroying hundred of buildings.

It was the second deadly tsunami in Indonesia this year, capping what will be the country’s worst year for disasters in more than a decade, with earthquakes, floods, fires and an airline crash that together have killed more than 4,500 people.

The tsunami struck about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, when many Indonesians were at the beaches on western Java and southern Sumatra celebrating a long Christmas weekend.

Officials said they think that the tsunami — with a wave nearly 10 feet high that hit the coast — had been caused by an undersea landslide that was set off by volcanic activity on the island of Anak Krakatau.

There was no seismic activity in the area, which might have prompted a tsunami evacuation alert and saved lives, the officials said.

“There was no tsunami warning,” said Rahmat Triyono, earthquake and tsunami chief at Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. “There was no earthquake.”

The tsunami damaged or destroyed at least 556 homes, nine hotels, 60 small shops and 350 boats, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster management agency.

Officials put the number of injured at 848 and the missing at 28.

Mr. Sutopo noted that Indonesian officials were unable to detect the tsunami and provide a warning because “we do not have a tsunami early-warning system that’s triggered by underwater landslides and volcanic eruptions.”