A tsunami killed at least 222 people and injured 843 on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, a spokesperson for the disaster mitigation agency told media on Sunday.
Authorities warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches and a high-tide warning remained in place through Dec. 25.
“Please do not be around the beaches around the Sunda Strait. Those who have evacuated, please do not return yet,” said Rahmat Triyono, an official at the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
Some 200 employees of state electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) and family members had gathered at the Tanjung Lesung beach for an end-of-year party when the tsunami struck on Saturday night.
TV footage showed roads blocked by debris from damaged houses, overturned cars and fallen trees. The water washed away an outdoor stage where a local rock band was performing.
Video footage shared on social media showed partygoers enjoying the music and then screaming as the waves crashed into the stage and band members were swept away. Reuters was not able to immediately verify the video.
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“Underwater I could only pray ‘Jesus Christ help!’,” Zack, a crew member of the rock band Seventeen, said in an Instagram post describing how he struggled in the water.
“In the final seconds I almost ran out of breath,” he said, adding he survived by clinging to part of the collapsed stage.
Among the dead were four members of Seventeen – bassist M. Awal “Bani” Purbani, road manager Oki Wijaya, guitarist Herman Sikumbang and crew member Ujang, the band said.
The band’s drummer was missing.
“Lost Bani and our road manager Oki,” lead singer Riefian “Ifan” Fajarsyah told followers in a tearful recorded video message on his Instagram account.
At a news conference, PLN said 29 employees and relatives had died and 13 were missing.
The tsunami was caused by “an undersea landslide resulting from volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau” and was exacerbated by abnormally high tide because of the full moon, disaster agency spokesperson Nugroho said.
Ben van der Pluijm, an earthquake geologist and a professor in the University of Michigan, said the tsunami may have been caused by a “partial collapse” of Anak Krakatau.
“Instability of the slope of an active volcano can create a rock slide that moves a large volume of water, creating local tsunami waves that can be very powerful. This is like suddenly dropping a bag of sand in a tub filled with water,” he said.
Anak Krakatau, an active volcano which is located roughly halfway between Java and Sumatra and has been spewing ash and lava for months, erupted again just after 9 p.m. local time on Saturday and the tsunami struck at around 9.30 p.m., according to BMKG.