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Tsunami Hits Stage as Band Performs, Multiple Members Dead

25 December 2018

The death toll from a tsunami that hit the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra after the Anak Krakatau volcano erupted rose to at least 280 on Monday, officials said, as rescuers using heavy machinery and their bare hands searched for more victims.

The numbers are set to rise as emergency services reach all of the affected areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands.

'We were shocked because a lot of the people who went there took their families, ' Dian said, noting the band had been due to return to Jakarta on Sunday.

Many homes and buildings have been flattened or heavily damaged by the tsunami.

Coastal residents barely had time to register the waves of 1-3 meters (3-10 feet) before the wall of water slammed into them.

Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

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Tsunamis have devastated the shorelines of Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries before, but the subsequent deaths and injuries still didn't result in comprehensive warning systems. Scientists said the high tide, coinciding with a full moon, may have contributed as well.

Earthquakes and tsunamis have destroyed hundreds of homes, and killed and displaced thousand of people this year across the vast Indonesian archipelago: more than 500 killed Lombok island in July and more than 2,500 dead in the Central Sulawesi city of Palu in September.

A crowd was watching Indonesian pop band Seventeen at a show organized by state-run electric company PLN at the Tanjung Lesun beach resort when the massive wave crashed through the stage and threw it into the audience.

Saturday's tsunami rekindled memories for some of the massive magnitude 9.1 quake that hit on December 26, 2004.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugrhoho gave a harsh assessment of Indonesia's tsunami warning system on Sunday, noting that it now relies nearly entirely on natural disaster detection and its network of offshore buoys has not been operational since 2012. It erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

Unlike those caused by earthquakes, which usually trigger alert systems, volcano-triggered tsunamis give authorities very little time to warn residents of the impending threat.

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The eruption of Krakatoa in the 19th century killed more than 30,000 people and hurled so much ash that it turned day to night in the area and reduced global temperatures.

Taylor-Offord said the eruption and "high noise environment" may be why the landslide was not recorded seismically.

Speaking to local media, he described the total horror that he witnessed in the moments directly after the tsunami, and said the evacuation of the area is proving to be slow.

It continues to grow each year and erupts periodically although it is much smaller than Krakatoa.

Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and a large portion of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

The natural disaster comes less than three months after a 7.4 magnitude quake struck Central Sulawesi, causing widespread damage and killing 2,256 people.

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Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas of disaster-prone Indonesia, making access hard in the best of conditions.

Tsunami Hits Stage as Band Performs, Multiple Members Dead