JAKARTA — Anak Krakatau volcano has been rumbling for months, emitting super heated ash and ribbons of lava. Beach parties were in full swing. Vacationers on Christmas holiday were having a late meal at seaside restaurants on the western tip of Java, the island where the disheartning incident took place. Little after 20 minutes, Anak Krakatau latest eruption, the sea rose up without any warning. The tsunami has been possibly triggered by an underwater landslide shaken loose by the volcanic activity. A wall of water roared ashore and sweeped up everything in its path- boats, tables, people.

           David Applegate, Associate Director for Natural Hazards at the U.S. Geological Survey, said in a telephonic interview on Sunday that the tsunami was unusual because it was not among the 90 percent that is caused by an earthquake. It was most likely caused by volcanic activity that led to a submarine landslide and thus came by surprise.

                It has been a tragic year for Indonesia. Earthquakes and tsunamis have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed and displaced thousands of houses this year all across Indonesia. In late October as well, a Lion Air passenger plane crashed after take off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people aboard.

       At least 281 people were counted among the dead by Monday morning — with authorities predicting that the number could rise as disaster teams have fanned out in villages, about 60 miles from Jakarta.

               “Underwater, I could only pray ‘Jesus Christ, help!’,” Zack said recalling his struggle in the water. “In the final seconds, I almost ran out of breath.” Zack was one of the members of a local band which was performing at the beachside.

                 At the Vatican, Pope Francis prayed for Indonesians “struck by violent natural calamities.” In Washington, a tweet by President Trump expressed hope for “recovery and healing” amid “unthinkable devastation.” 

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