Rescuers scramble to reach isolated tsunami-struck towns

By AFP |December 26,2018 - 09:57 PM

Anak Krakatoa volcano sits in the middle of the Sundra Strait separating Java and Sumatra.
/AFP

Indonesian search and rescue teams Wednesday plucked stranded residents from remote islands and pushed into isolated communities desperate for aid in the aftermath of a volcano-triggered tsunami that killed over 400.

But torrential rains hampered their efforts and heaped more misery on the region as stunned residents waded through waist-deep water in parts of hard-hit Carita.

“Heavy rains caused a river to overflow and several places are flooded,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Twitter.

“It’s hampering efforts to evacuate people and help other survivors.”

The disaster agency cautioned residents to stay clear of the coast as activity was still high at the rumbling Anak Krakatoa volcano, which sits in the middle of the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands.

A section of the crater collapsed after an eruption and slid into the ocean, triggering Saturday night’s killer tsunami, officials have said.

The powerful waves struck without warning, washing over popular beaches and inundating tourist hotels and coastal communities on both sides of the strait – and leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake.

The latest death toll stood at 429, with 1,485 people injured and another 154 still missing.

Medical workers have warned that clean water and medicine supplies were running low – stoking fears of a public health crisis – as thousands of displaced survivors cram shelters and hospitals. Many were left homeless by the killer wave.

The disaster agency has dispatched helicopters to drop supplies into a handful of hard-to-reach communities along the shattered coastlines.

Hundreds of residents still stranded on tiny islands in Sunda Strait are being airlifted or taken by boat to shelters.

Sniffer dogs are being used to find those still missing as grief-stricken relatives lined up at identification centers.

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