Days after a deadly tsunami hit the coastal towns near the Sunda Strait in Indonesia on December 22, 2018, local government officials reported 426 people confirmed dead, 7,202 injured, 23 missing, and 40,386 evacuated. These official numbers continue to change while rescue operations are ongoing.
According to Indonesia’s local disaster agency, the tsunami was triggered by an unusual underwater landslide caused by Anak Krakatau's volcanic eruption. This natural activity created a tsunami, with waves more than 9 feet (3 meters) high crashing onto nearby shores that swept away hundreds of people, houses, and commercial establishments.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Indonesia immediately deployed emergency response teams and coordinated with government entities to conduct rapid assessments and determine what types of assistance could be extended to affected families in the shortest time possible.
“The government is concentrating on the search and rescue at this stage, and accurate data is still limited,” said Kyriakos Ersantukides Erlan, project manager of Community Resilience through ADRA and Church Partnership (CRACP). “Hundreds of makeshift shelters were set up to accommodate evacuees displaced by the tsunami. We continue to communicate with the affected villages to make an accurate assessment of their needs.”
The Pandeglang and Serang regions of Banten province in Java are the areas that felt the worst effects of the tsunami. According to media reports, rescue and relief operations were organized quickly in this highly populated area that also encompasses the Ujung Kulon National Park and a number of popular beaches.
The disaster management agency continues to warn people to stay away from the coastline as Anak Krakatau continues to show signs of tremors and eruption. Authorities raised the volcano’s threat level from 2 to 3 with a no-go zone extended to a radius of more than 3 miles (5 kilometers). Flight paths were also rerouted to avoid the erupting volcano as it was reported to be discharging pillars of ashes into the air.
ADRA Indonesia response teams initiated groundwork Sabbath (Saturday) morning to distribute food and other basic needs at Sumber Jaya village in Sumur, Pandeglang Regency, Banten province.
“Affected families are in a very challenging situation at this time and need a lot of both physical and moral help to overcome this crisis,” Erlan said. “Families need food, clean water, sanitation, blankets, health services, tents, nutritional supplements, displacement shelters, latrines, and medicines.”
According to reports, a group of Adventists from a local church in the Kelapa Gading area of Jakarta was spending time at a retreat in Serang on December 22. The villa where the group stayed was hit by the tsunami, and 10 people from the group were injured. All the members have returned to Jakarta, and everyone is now in good health.