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Tsunami strikes without warning in Indonesia, killing at least 222

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Underwater rockslide triggered by erupting island volcano causes tsunami that kills at least 222

JAKARTA: A tsunami hit without warning on Saturday night and left a trail of death and destruction on both sides of the Sunda Strait in Indonesia.

Dramatic video footage of a concert on the beach shows how suddenly the tsunami had struck.

One moment the band is performing on an outdoor stage, the next a giant wave sweeps them away and rips apart the stage as concert-goers scream.

At least 222 people have been reported killed, with hundreds injured or missing as of yesterday evening.

The tsunami, which struck at 9.30pm local time (10.30pm in Singapore) on Saturday, is believed to have been triggered by an underwater rockslide after the island volcano of Anak Krakatau erupted.

The volcano, which is located in the Sunda Strait roughly halfway between western Java and south Sumatra, had been spewing ash and lava for months.

Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), said there had been no warning because a tsunami warning buoy system set up in the strait in 2008 had not been working since 2012.

"So nobody knew when the tsunami was occurring in the Sunda Strait. We only knew it struck the beach," he told The Straits Times.

Dr Sutopo was also quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying the country did not have any early warning system for tsunamis not caused by earthquakes.

The concert was part of an end-of-year party at the popular Tanjung Lesung resort beach in western Java for about 200 employees of state electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) and family members.

Among the dead were members of the rock band Seventeen - bassist M. Awal "Bani" Purbani and road manager Oki Wijaya, Reuters reported.

Fighting back tears and wiping his eyes, lead singer Riefian Fajarsyah said that his wife Dylan Sahara, two band members - drummer Andi and guitarist Herman - and a crew member Ujang were still missing.

"We lost our bassist Bani and our road manager Oki," he said in a video.

"The rest are thankfully safe, although suffering from injuries and broken bones. Please pray so my wife Dylan, Andi and Herman and Ujang can be found soon."

Zack, a crew member, described in an Instagram post how he had struggled in the water.

"Underwater, I could only pray 'Jesus Christ help!' In the final seconds, I almost ran out of breath," he said, adding he survived by clinging to part of the collapsed stage.

PLN told a news conference that 29 employees and relatives had died, and 13 were missing.

Banten, a popular tourist destination in West Java, was one of the worst-hit areas, with many holiday-makers in hotels and bungalows among the casualties, said BNPB.

Mr Sutopo said preliminary data indicated there were foreign casualties.

At least 585 homes have been destroyed, nine hotels severely damaged, and 60 restaurants and 350 boats damaged.

Residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait have been warned to stay away from beaches, and a high-tide warning remains in place until tomorrow.

WORLD