President Xi Jinping sent a message to Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday to express his condolences over the deadly tsunami that hit coastal areas of the nation and killed at least 281 people.
Xi sent his deep condolences to Widodo, and through him to the victims, families of the victims, the injured and residents affected on behalf of the Chinese government and people and in his own name.
Indonesia is a friendly neighbor of China, and the Chinese people are sympathetic after the disaster suffered by the Indonesian people, he said.
Xi said he believes that under the leadership of Widodo and his government, the people in the disaster-hit areas will be able to overcome difficulties and rebuild their homes at an early date.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing on Monday that China will provide assistance to Indonesia within its own capacity through channels including the Red Cross.
Indonesia’s disaster management agency said the death toll from the tsunami, believed to be triggered by a volcanic eruption had climbed to 281, with 1,016 injured and dozens missing.
Rescuers raced to find survivors on Monday as experts warned that the devastated region could be slammed by more deadly waves.
Local media reports said rescue teams used their bare hands and heavy equipment to haul debris from the stricken area around the Sunda Strait as thousands were evacuated to higher ground.
The powerful tsunami struck without any warning on Saturday night, sweeping over popular beaches of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java and inundating tourist hotels and coastal settlements.
Widodo arrived at the disaster area by helicopter on Monday. A day earlier, he expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.
The death toll “will continue to rise”, Indonesian disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, according to Agence France-Presse.
A joint task force — including thousands of soldiers, police and personnel from the search and rescue office, the disaster management office and volunteers — was racing against time to conduct searches and provide emergency relief, the spokesman said.
Oxfam and other international aid agencies said they would provide assistance as local rescuers evacuated the injured and set up tarpaulins to provide shelter.
Experts say Saturday’s tsunami was likely triggered by a massive underwater landslide following an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait.
Unlike those caused by earthquakes, which trigger alert systems, such tsunamis give authorities very little time to warn residents of the impending threat.
“It happened very quickly,” survivor Ade Junaedi told The Jakarta Post.
“I was chatting with a guest at our place when my wife opened the door and she suddenly screamed in panic. I thought there was a fire, but when I walked to the door I saw the water coming”.
Richard Teeuw, a geohazard expert from the University of Portsmouth in England, said the eruption and landslide may well have destabilized the volcano, heightening the risk of another tsunami, a Jakarta Post report said.
“The likelihood of further tsunamis in the Sunda Strait will remain high while Anak Krakatau volcano is going through its current active phase because that might trigger further submarine landslides,” Teeuw said.
Anak Krakatau, a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, emerged around 1928 in the crater left by Krakatau, whose massive eruption in 1883 killed at least 36,000 people and affected global weather patterns for years.
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