Death Toll Hits 429 As Hunt Continues For Volcano Tsunami Survivors

The death toll from the tsunami that hit coastal areas of Indonesia's Java and Sumatra islands has reached 429, with almost 1500 injured and 154 missing, an official says.

The tsunami that hit stretches of the Indonesian coast around the Sunda Strait -- between Java and Sumatra -- was indirectly caused by volcanic eruptions from the Mount Anak Krakatau volcano, some 50km off the coast, experts have concluded.

The devastation caused by the tsunami was spread across five districts of both islands, with Pandeglang district on the western coast of Java the worst hit.

Indonesian military and rescue teams fanned out across a stretch of coastline, hoping to find survivors.

Thick clouds of ash spewed from Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island where a crater collapse at high tide late on Saturday set off waves that smashed into coastal areas on both sides of the Sunda Strait between the islands of Sumatra and Java.

Rescuers used heavy machinery and bare hands to dig bodies out of mud and wreckage along a 100 km stretch of Java’s west coast.

More than 1,500 people were injured, and about 12,000 residents had to move to higher ground, with a high-tide warning extended to Wednesday.

12,000 residents have been told to head to higher ground. Image: Getty Images.
1,500 people have been injured. Image: Getty Images.

The vast archipelago, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.

Earthquakes flattened parts of the island of Lombok in July and August, and a double quake-and-tsunami killed more than 2,000 people on a remote part of Sulawesi island in September.

READ MORE: 'No Warning' Before Tsunami Struck Indonesia Killing At Least 222 People

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Saturday’s tsunami destroyed more than 700 buildings, from small shops and houses to villas and hotels. It took just 24 minutes after the landslide for waves to hit land, and there was no early warning for those living on the coast.

More than 700 buildings have been destroyed. Image: Getty Images.
Nearly 400 people have died as a result of the tsunami. Image: Getty Images.

Vehicles were crushed by waves that lifted chunks of metal, felled trees, wooden beams and household items and deposited them on roads and rice fields.

Nurjana, 20, ran uphill after the tsunami hit. Her beachside snack stall was washed away.

“I opened the door straight away and saved myself. I jumped over the wall,” she said. “Everything is destroyed.”

With AAP.