Indonesia tsunami death toll soars, thousands homeless

At least 429 people have died in Saturday's tsunami, while at least 128 are still missing.

    A tsunami survivor sits on debris as she salvages items from her house in Sumur, Indonesia [Fauzy Chaniago/AP Photo]
    A tsunami survivor sits on debris as she salvages items from her house in Sumur, Indonesia [Fauzy Chaniago/AP Photo]

    The death toll from the tsunami that hit Indonesian islands without warning on Saturday night has passed 400 with more than 1,400 people injured.

    Thousands of people were left homeless when the waves smashed homes on coastal areas of western Java and southern Sumatra.

    Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for disaster management agency BNPB, said the death toll had climbed to 429 on Tuesday and at least 128 were missing. 

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    Troops, government personnel and volunteers continued with their search and rescue operations along the debris-strewn beaches, where victims were found, body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

    Local residents told Al Jazeera of the moments immediately after the wave hit, describing scenes of panic and saying they were taken completely unaware.

    The tsunami hit the Indonesian strait on Saturday almost without warning in the darkness, smashing into houses, hotels and other buildings.

    The waves that swept terrified people into the sea on Saturday night followed an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatoa, a volcanic island that emerged from the sea in the 1920s.

    The periodically active volcano has been spewing ash and lava since June.

    Indonesia, which is made up of 17,000 islands, is located in a tectonically active region known as the 'Ring of Fire', which makes it susceptible to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis.

    In the past year, the country has experienced a number of devastating natural disasters. In August, a series of earthquakes struck the island of Lombok killing more than 500 people. The following month, more than 2,000 people were killed after an earthquake and tsunami in the city of Palu.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies