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Indonesia on alert as tsunami death toll rises

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INJURED— Police carry one of the victims, a boy

By Al Jazeera:

Rescue workers are stepping up efforts to reach many areas devastated by a deadly tsunami that hit an Indonesian strait almost without warning in the darkness, smashing into houses, hotels and other buildings.

As doctors worked to help survivors and hundreds of people searched on debris-strewn beaches along the Sunda Strait for more victims, Indonesian officials said on Monday morning that the death toll had risen to at least 281, with 1,016 injured.

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Dozens are missing from the disaster areas along the coastlines of western Java and southern Sumatra islands. The numbers could increase once authorities hear from all stricken areas.

The waves that swept terrified people into the sea on Saturday night followed an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatoa, a volcanic island that emerged from the sea in the 1920s.

Government and non-government aid trickled in to Pandeglang, the worst-affected area on Java’s west coast. In Lampung, in southern Sumatra, dozens of people have been reported dead.

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Authorities have warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches, with a high tide warning in place until today.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Pantai Tumaritis, on the western coast of Java, said officials were wary of a possible recurrence.

“All Monday morning, there has been a low rumbling noise that occasionally peaks from the volcano some 47km out to sea directly from where we are,” he said, reporting from a hotel where two young children were found dead.

“With audio evidence that the volcano is continuing to erupt – it has been erupting on and off for months now, and Saturday’s was not a particularly big one – there is a very real concern that there could be further tsunamis.

Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, expressed his sympathy and ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster.

“My deep condolences to the victims in Banten and Lampung provinces,” he said. “Hopefully, those who are left have patience.”

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