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Latest Indonesian tsunami death toll soars past 400

Residents warned to stay away from shorelines amid fears of more deadly waves

MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

More than 400 people were killed by a tsunami that hit coastal communities along Indonesia's Sunda Strait Saturday night, where officials are still warning residents to stay inland in case more deadly waves follow.

What are the details?

The death toll reached 433 on Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported that another 1,495 people have been listed as injured, and 159 are still missing. First responders continue to scour the area with helicopters and naval ships in search of victims.

Scientists believe Saturday's tragedy was caused by an underwater landslide following the eruption of Anak Krakatau, or "Child of Krakatoa," a volcano located within the Sunda Strait. The resulting tsunami hit the islands of Java and Sumatra around 9:30 p.m. without warning, with residents saying the waves were more than 10 feet high in some areas.

One viral video showed the moment the violent wave pummeled an ongoing concert.

According to Time, Indonesia's Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency has warned residents to stay at least 500 meters from beaches along the strait, as stormy weather and high surf stoke fears of further deadly waves forming. Agency head Dwikorita Karnawati explained, "All these conditions could potentially cause landslides at the cliffs of the crater in the sea, and we fear that that could trigger a tsunami."

NPR reported that Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency said the country's tsunami warning system has been broken since 2012 due to lack of funding, damage from passing ships and vandalism. President Joko Widodo — who is up for re-election in April, the Journal noted — assured voters this week that he would fund and install an early detection system in 2019.

Anything else?

Indonesia's latest tsunami comes just three months after an earthquake and tsunami killed at least 2,100 people in the country at the end of September. In August, another earthquake claimed the lives of more than 500 people on the Indonesian island of Lombok.

The country is prone to earthquakes due to the 18,000-island archipelago being located directly on the so-called Ring of Fire, which is an arc of fault lines and volcanoes in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday also marks the 14th anniversary of the devastating tsunami caused by an earthquake in 2004, which killed roughly 230,000 people in a dozen Asian countries, including Indonesia.

One last thing…
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