December 22, 2018 | Lao Tribune

Daily Archives December 22, 2018

281 Dead, Hundreds Injured in Indonesia Tsunami

A tsunami that struck late Saturday has killed nearly three hundred people along Indonesia's Sunda Straits.

Indonesia's national disaster agency said Monday that 281 people were killed, 1,016 injured and 57 others were missing.

The number of casualties is expected to rise.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reported an eruption of the Krakatoa volcano about 9 p.m. Saturday local time, and the tsunami struck a short time later, about 9:30 p.m.

The cause of the tsunami was due to a combination of undersea landslides after the eruption of Mount Anak Krakatoa and the tidal wave caused by the full moon," according to BMKG. However, the Indonesian Geological Agency said that they can't confirm if the tsunami was triggered by the eruption of Krakatoa, since that mountain has been erupting since last June � with even greater strength � and never caused a tsunami.

The chief of the Geological Agency, Rudy Suhendar, told VOA's Indonesian Service that it was still investigating what caused the tsunami.

The casualties occurred in three regions -- South Lampung in Sumatra and the Serang and Pandeglang regions of Java, west of the capital Jakarta -- along the Sunda Straits, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBP), said in a statement.

More than 600 homes, 69 hotels, 60 shops and some 420 boats were damaged, BNBP said Monday, along with dozens of cars and other vehicles.

Jakarta resident Suhada was fishing on Carita Beach and visiting his family for the weekend when he ran from what he described as three waves between 10 and 11pm Saturday night. Suhada was able to flee to higher ground with his family.

"Thank God I could save my family," he told VOA's Indonesian service.

Disaster agency head Endan Permana told local media that many people were missing in tourist locale Tanjung Lesung, Banten province, near Jakarta.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is set to visit Banten province Monday.

Earlier, he ordered government agencies to respond quickly to the disaster. "The Ministry for Social Affairs and the chief of the military are already on the ground," he said.

The Red Cross said Banten is one of the "worst affected areas." The aid organization, however, said it was able to dispatch "relief goods" from its Banten warehouse, including water, tarpaulins, cleaning equipment, plus family and hygiene kits.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted about the "unthinkable devastation" caused by the tsunami, adding that "We are praying for recovery and healing. America is with you!"

The U.S. State Department also expressed its support: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in Indonesia affected by the natural disaster. We are currently not aware of any U.S. citizens directly affected, but stand ready to assist as needed."

As did United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. His spokesman said the U.N. chief was "saddened by the loss of life, injuries and damages caused by the tsunami" and that the world body "stands ready to support the ongoing Government-led rescue and relief effort".

On September 28, a quake and tsunami that hit near the city of Palu, on the island of Sulawesi, killed more than 2,500 and displaced about 70,000.

On December 26, 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Source: Voice of America

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Japan Emperor Marks Last Birthday on Throne

TOKYO Japan's Emperor Akihito, marking his 85th birthday � his last before his upcoming abdication � said he feels relieved that his reign is ending without his nation having been at war, and that it is important to keep telling younger people about his nation's wartime history.

"It gives me deep comfort that the Heisei era is coming to an end, free of war in Japan,'' Akihito said at a news conference at the palace, which was recorded this past week and released Sunday. "It is important not to forget that countless lives were lost in World War II and that the peace and prosperity of postwar Japan was built upon the numerous sacrifices and tireless efforts made by the Japanese people, and to pass on this history accurately to those born after the war.''

Lone era without war

Akihito's 30-year reign of the Heisei is the only era without war in Japan's modern history. Praying for peace and making amends for a war fought in the name of his father, Hirohito, has become a career mission for Akihito, who succeeded the throne in 1989.

Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, to be succeeded by his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, on May 1. Sunday's birthday celebration is Akihito's last in his reign.

As emperor, Akihito has made unprecedented visits to the Philippines and other Pacific islands conquered by Japan early in World War II and devastated in fierce fighting as the U.S.-led allies took them back. Though Akihito has avoided a direct apology, he has subtly stepped up his expressions of regret in recent years in carefully scripted statements on the war.

Akihito said he won't forget those trips with his wife, Empress Michiko, and thanked those counties for welcoming them despite their bitter memories of the war. "I am grateful to each of those countries for welcoming us with warm hospitality,'' he said.

Akihito's pacifist image and his compassion for disaster victims, the handicapped and the minorities have gained public support for him and his family. Experts say Akihito's pacifist views may have come from his childhood wartime experiences.

Akihito was 11 years old when he heard his father's voice announcing Japan's World War II surrender on the radio on Aug. 15, 1945. During the subsequent U.S. occupation of Japan, he was tutored in English by Elizabeth Vining, a Quaker, an experience that experts say gave Akihito his pacifist and democratic outlook.

Dignitaries' visits

Akihito, in his birthday message, fondly recalled receiving many dignitaries visiting Japan after its return to international society with the signing of the 1952 San Francisco peace treaty.

Akihito is the first emperor enthroned under Japan's postwar pacifist constitution, as a "symbol'' with no political power, unlike his father, who was revered as a god until the end of the war. Akihito reiterated his respect and adherence to the war-renouncing charter and his role as a symbol, saying, "I intend to carry out my duties in that capacity and shall continue to contemplate this question as I perform my day-to-day duties until the day of my abdication.''

Source: Voice of America

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