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Indonesian Tsunami Leaves Nearly 400 Dead, Panic and Chaos In Its Wake

LABUAN, Indonesia — Indonesian fisherman Yadi was at his seaside home on the west coast of Java island when he felt a light breeze picking up on Saturday night as hundreds of people milled about in nearby restaurants, enjoying barbecued fish.

Then a surge of seawater swept up the beach, scattering the crowds, flattening buildings, and sending parked cars crunching into trees.

At least 373 people were killed in tsunami waves of up to 10 feet (three meters) that hit several towns along the rim of the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands, triggered by a landslide on the Anak Krakatau volcano.

It is the latest in a string of natural disasters to strike the world’s fourth most populated country in 2018, making it the deadliest year in more than a decade for Indonesia.

“People said ‘run, run a wave is coming!’. There were three waves in a row,” said Yadi, a middle-aged fisherman who operates a fleet of six vessels that were among dozens that sank or were dragged out to sea by the waves.

“There was a real panic. Many people were left behind,” he said, adding that he and his family escaped by running to higher ground.

What’s left behind is a wasteland of collapsed houses and hotels and muddy roads strewn with twisted metal and wood.

It is the latest in a string of natural disasters to strike Indonesia in 2018, making it the deadliest year in more than a decade.

“People said ‘run, run a wave is coming!’. There were three waves in a row,” said Yadi, a middle-aged fisherman who operates a fleet of six vessels that were among dozens that sank or were dragged out to sea by the waves.

“There was a real panic. Many people were left behind,” he said, adding that he and his family escaped by running to higher ground.

What’s left behind is a wasteland of collapsed houses and hotels and muddy roads strewn with twisted metal and wood.

Cici Paramita, 27, was clambering through the shattered remains of her house, a tangle of water-logged debris, 50 meters from the beach.

“We lost all our belongings,” she said.

On Saturday night, she said she had to wade through waist-deep water to rescue her eight-year-old son who was trapped in debris.


An aerial photo shows damaged buildings in Carita, Indonesia on December 23, 2018.


(REUTERS)

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John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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