The waves smashed onto beaches at night without warning, ripping houses and hotels from their foundations in seconds and sweeping terrified concertgoers into the sea.
More than 800 people were injured and dozens more missing after the tsunami hit around the Sunda Strait at 9:27 pm on Saturday, the Disaster Management Agency said.
The toll could continue to rise because some areas had not yet been reached.
Scientists, including those from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency, said yesterday the tsunami could have been caused by underwater landslides or those occurring above ground on Anak Krakatau’s steep slope following its eruption.
The volcano’s name translates to “Child of Krakatoa,” a volcanic island formed over years after one of the largest, most devastating eruptions in recorded history occurred at the Krakatoa volcano more than a century ago. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.
Dramatic video posted on social media showed the Indonesian pop band Seventeen performing under a tent on a popular beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company.
Seconds later the stage could be seen to suddenly heave forward and buckled under the force of the water, tossing the band and its equipment into the audience.
The group released a statement saying their bass player, guitarist and road manager were found dead, while two other band members and the wife of one of the performers remained missing.
Tourists who were enjoying the long holiday weekend ahead of Christmas were also affected.
The Anak Krakatau volcano lies in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, linking the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea. It erupted about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.
The worst-affected area was the Pandeglang region of Java’s Banten province, which encompasses Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the disaster agency said.
Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 222 deaths had been confirmed and at least 843 people were injured.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.
“My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lumpung provinces,” he said. “Hopefully, those who are left have patience.”
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 appeared lost while wandering.