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

The deadly tsunami struck in the dark, without warning.

At least 222 people were killed as waves smashed into houses, hotels and other beachside buildings on Saturday night along Indonesia's Sunda Strait following an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatau, one of the world's most infamous volcanic islands.

More than 800 others were injured and dozens were reported missing after the tsunami hit coastal areas along western Java and southern Sumatra islands at 9.27pm amid a Christmas holiday weekend, the Disaster Management Agency said.

Debris is seen from a damaged home on Carita beach on December 23, 2018, after the area was hit by a tsunami that may have been caused by the Anak Krakatoa volcano. Image: Getty

The death toll could increase once authorities hear from all stricken areas.

It was the second deadly tsunami to hit Indonesia this year, but the one that killed more than 2500 people on the island of Sulawesi on September 28 was accompanied by a powerful earthquake that gave residents a brief warning before the waves struck.

On Saturday night, the ground did not shake beforehand to alert people to the oncoming wave that ripped buildings from their foundations in seconds and swept terrified concertgoers on a popular resort beach into the sea.

Dramatic video posted on social media showed the Indonesian pop band Seventeen performing under a tent on popular Tanjung Lesung beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company.

Dozens of people sat at tables while others swayed to the music near the stage as strobe lights flashed and theatrical smoke was released. A child could also be seen wandering through the crowd.

Seconds later, with the drummer pounding just as the next song was about to begin, the stage suddenly heaved forward and buckled under the force of the water, tossing the band and its equipment into the audience.

Harrowing Footage Emerges Of Moment Indonesia Tsunami Strikes

The group released a statement saying their bass player, guitarist and road manager were killed, while two other band members and the wife of one of the performers were missing.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 222 deaths had been confirmed and at least 843 people were injured.

The worst-affected area was the Pandeglang region of Java's Banten province, which encompasses Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the agency said.

Nugroho said there was "no warning" before the tsunami hit, calling for a "multi-hazard early warning system".

"We used to know that a tsunami happens after an earthquake. There was no quake last night. That is why there was no warning," he said.

In the city of Bandar Lampung on Sumatra, hundreds of residents took refuge at the governor's office, while at the popular resort area of Anyer beach on Java, some survivors wandered in the debris.

Tourists who were enjoying the long holiday weekend ahead of Christmas were also affected.

"I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20m inland," said Norwegian Oystein Lund Andersen, in a Facebook post. The self-described photographer and volcano enthusiast said he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw the water racing towards him. He and his family fled safely to higher ground.

The damage became apparent after daybreak on Sunday.

Nine hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged by the waves. Broken chunks of concrete and splintered sticks of wood littered hard-hit coastal areas, turning beach getaways popular with Jakarta residents into near ghost towns. Vehicles were tossed into the rubble or were buried under collapsed roofs. Debris from thatch-bamboo shacks was strewn along beaches.

A rescue worker walks past a wrecked bus and bungalow destroyed by a tsunami at a resort hotel on December 23, 2018, in Tanjung Lesung, Indonesia. Image: Getty

Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

Scientists said the tsunami could have been caused by landslides, either above ground or under water, on the steep slope of the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.

The 305-metre-high Anak Krakatau, which means "Child of Krakatoa", has been erupting since June and did so again about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.