#IndonesiaTsunami: The Little Miracle Among The Rubble

Tsunami
Residents inspect the damaged at a tsunami-ravaged village in Sumur, Indonesia. The tsunami that hit the coasts of Indonesian islands along the Sunda Strait was not big but it was destructive. Picture: Fauzy Chaniago/AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Rescuers in Indonesia heard a child’s cries coming from a car crushed under fallen trees, 12 hours after the giant wave struck without warning, killing at least 222 and leaving hundreds more injured and homeless.

The boy, thought to be five, appeared unharmed but it was unclear if his family had survived, as authorities warned the death toll was likely to rise.

Rescue efforts continued as aid agencies began urgent assessments of the risks faced by survivors who have lost homes and businesses. Many have been left destitute.

Shop owner Rudi Herdiansyah described how a wall of water smashed into his beachside shop in Java and dragged him away. He said there was no warning until a “very loud noise from the sea” just moments before the water hit.

He was hit and knocked down three times before freeing himself from the debris and recalling his tsunami drill training. He said: “I tried to get hold of anything. I hid and clung on to a bench.” His shop, constructed from wood and corrugated metal, was destroyed and he now plans to take his family to relatives until it was safe to return.

Elsewhere in Java, Kevin Rusali described how he heard a “boom, boom, boom” noise as Anak Krakatau erupted, some 30 minutes before the tsunami hit.

The 36-year-old from Jakarta was on holiday with his wife, two children and his wife’s parents in a rented villa in Carita. His children had gone to bed while the adults were enjoying a barbecue yards from the beach.

Mr Rusali went outside for a torch from his car and felt a blast of wind. He told the Sydney Morning Herald: “I felt that very strong wind and looked at the ocean and saw the wave coming.”

Mr Rusali said the wave was 10ft to 13ft and described how he hesitated, unsure whether to run to his car to hide or go back to the villa to his family. Fortunately he ran to the villa as his car was picked up and thrown by the wave. He wept as he said: “My daughter was trapped under something but that actually saved her. My mother-in-law was hit by a collapsing wall and my wife injured her leg.”

On the other side of the Sunda Straits, in Sumatra, Lutfi Al Rasyid fled Kalianda beach for his life. The 23-year-old said: “I could not start my motorbike so I left it and ran as fast as I could.”

The chief of Indonesia’s emergency medical association, Dr Moh Adib Khumaidi, said casualty numbers are expected to increase. He said: “The numbers of victims are growing… the evacuation process is still going on.”

Aid workers were last night reaching some of the more remote areas. Atjie Kaya, of aid agency World Vision, said the situation in Java was “very confusing”, adding: “The main focus is to identify the dead. People are scared as there is not much information, but they are in shelters and hospitals for now.

“It is raining very heavily, which has made things very difficult.”

In Britain, Oxfam and Save the Children appealed for donations. Michael Rooijackers, chief operating officer of Save the Children’s partner agency in Indonesia, said: “We’re particularly concerned about the safety of children.”

The UN and the EU both pledged humanitarian support if requested by Jakarta.

IOL