Heavy rain slows rescue work as overflowing hospitals struggle to cope in aftermath of Indonesian tsunami

Indonesian search and rescue teams on Wednesday plucked stranded residents from remote islands and pushed into isolated communities desperate for aid in the aftermath of a volcano-triggered tsunami that killed over 400.

But torrential rains hampered the effort and heaped more misery on the region, as officials warned another killer wave could hit the stricken area.

The disaster agency cautioned residents to stay clear of the coast, as fresh activity at the Anak Krakatoa volcano, which sits in the middle of the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, threatened to spark another tsunami.

A section of the crater – which emerged at the site of the legendary Krakatoa volcano, whose massive 1883 eruption killed at least 36,000 people – collapsed after an eruption and slid into the ocean, triggering Saturday night’s killer wave.

Residents evacuate from Sebesi Island at Tennis Court Kalianda in South Lampung, Indonesia on December 26, 2018Credit:

The disaster agency slightly raised the death toll on Wednesday to 430, with 1,495 people injured and another 159 missing.

Medical workers have warned that clean water and medicine supplies were running low – stoking fears of a public health crisis – as thousands of displaced survivors cram shelters and hospitals.

The co-ordinator of the Indonesia Red Cross, Ridwan Sobri Carman, called on the government to do more.

 “[People] need tents, vitamins, blankets, clean and drinking water and better food,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “We provide those materials, but clearly that is not enough.”

In the Pandeglang area of Banten Province the Head of Red Crescent Indonesia said that local health centers needed more surgeons and orthopedic specialists, as well as general practitioners and paramedics. 

“Health centers lack essential medical equipment – even body bags,”  Mangaradja Victor told teh Daily Telegraph, adding that the area is in dire need of disease prevention support as refugees are camped out in exposed areas on the sides and terraces of local mosques.

Many of an estimated 22,000 displaced people fear going back to their communities.

“I’m here because people said there could another tsunami,” Etin Supriatin told AFP from an evacuation centre in shattered Labuan.

The disaster agency dispatched helicopters to drop supplies into hard-to-reach communities, while hundreds of residents on tiny islands in the Sunda Strait were airlifted or taken by boat to shelters.

Sniffer dogs are being used to find those still missing as grief-stricken relatives lined up at identification centres.

But hopes of finding any survivors beneath the rubble have dwindled.

Tubagus Cecep, 63, waited nervously at the area’s main identification centre to see if a body was that of his missing son.

“I’m scared my son is dead, but if I keep my faith in God maybe he could have been swept away somewhere and is still alive,” he told AFP.

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