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Tsunami that claimed 222 lives in Indonesia struck without warning

WATCH ABOVE: More than 200 people are dead after a tsunami slammed into coastal communities in Indonesia. It's believed a volcanic eruption caused an undersea landslide that triggered the deadly waves. Mike Le Couteur reports.

The deadly tsunami struck in the dark, without warning.

At least 222 people were killed as waves smashed into houses, hotels and other beachside buildings Saturday night along Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, in a disaster that followed an eruption and possible landslide on Anak Krakatau, one of the world’s most infamous volcanic islands.

READ MORE: Tsunami wave crashes into concert on Indonesian beach, killing 2 band members: video

More than 800 others were injured and dozens were reported missing after the tsunami hit coastal areas along western Java and southern Sumatra islands at 9:27 p.m. Saturday amid a Christmas holiday weekend, the Disaster Management Agency said. The death toll could increase once authorities hear from all stricken areas.

WATCH: Tsunami that claimed 222 lives in Indonesia struck without warning

Tsunami that claimed 222 lives in Indonesia struck without warning
Tsunami that claimed 222 lives in Indonesia struck without warning

It was the second deadly tsunami to hit Indonesia this year, but the one that killed more than 2,500 people on the island of Sulawesi on Sept. 28 was accompanied by a powerful earthquake that gave residents a brief warning before the waves struck.

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On Saturday night, the ground did not shake beforehand to alert people to the oncoming wave that ripped buildings from their foundations in seconds and swept terrified concertgoers on a popular resort beach into the sea.

Azki Kurniawan, 16, said his first warning about the tsunami was when people burst into the lobby of the Patra Comfort Hotel shouting, “Sea water rising!”

Kurniawan, who was undergoing vocational training with a group of 30 other students, said he was confused because he had not felt a big earthquake. He said he ran to the parking lot to try to reach his motorbike but discovered it was already flooded.

READ MORE: Global Affairs Canada says it knows of no Canadians affected by Indonesia tsunami

“Suddenly, a 1 metre wave hit me,” he said, his eyes red and swollen from crying. “I was thrown into the fence of a building about 30 metres from the beach and held onto the fence as strong as I could, trying to resist the water, which felt like it would drag me back into the sea. I cried in fear … ‘This is a tsunami?’ I was afraid I would die.”

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WATCH: Krakatoa eruption thought to be cause of deadly tsunami in Indonesia

Krakatoa eruption thought to be cause of deadly tsunami in Indonesia
Krakatoa eruption thought to be cause of deadly tsunami in Indonesia

Dramatic video posted on social media showed the Indonesian pop band Seventeen performing under a tent on popular Tanjung Lesung beach at a concert for employees of a state-owned electricity company. Dozens of people sat at tables while others swayed to the music near the stage as strobe lights flashed and theatrical smoke was released. A child could also be seen wandering through the crowd.

Seconds later, with the drummer pounding just as the next song was about to begin, the stage suddenly heaved forward and buckled under the force of the water, tossing the band and its equipment into the audience.

READ MORE: Trudeau offers condolences, Canadian support after tsunami devastates Indonesia

The group released a statement saying their bass player, guitarist and road manager were killed, while two other band members and the wife of one of the performers were missing.

“The tide rose to the surface and dragged all the people on site,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, when the current receded, our members were unable to save themselves while some did not find a place to hold on.”

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 222 deaths had been confirmed and at least 843 people were injured.

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IN PHOTOS: The aftermath of Indonesia’s deadly tsunami

A man reacts after identifying his relative among the bodies of tsunami victims in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
A man reacts after identifying his relative among the bodies of tsunami victims in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Fauzy Chaniago)
Local residents on a scooter transit near debris after a tsunami hit the Sunda Strait in Pandeglang, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018.
Local residents on a scooter transit near debris after a tsunami hit the Sunda Strait in Pandeglang, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018. EPA/ADI WEDA
An Indonesian man looks at ruined vehicles after a tsunami hit Sunda Strait in Anyer, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018.
An Indonesian man looks at ruined vehicles after a tsunami hit Sunda Strait in Anyer, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018. EPA/DIAN TRIYULI HANDOKO
Rescuers search for tsunami victims in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
Rescuers search for tsunami victims in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Fauzy Chaniago)
Motorists pass by a car swept away by a tsunami in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
Motorists pass by a car swept away by a tsunami in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Fauzy Chaniago)
Indonesian soldiers carry a body bag containing the body of a tsunami victim, in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
Indonesian soldiers carry a body bag containing the body of a tsunami victim, in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo)
Cars damaged by a tsunami sit in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
Cars damaged by a tsunami sit in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Cars damaged by a tsunami sit in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
Cars damaged by a tsunami sit in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
A women inspects her house which was damaged by a tsunami, in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
A women inspects her house which was damaged by a tsunami, in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
People inspect the wreckage of a car swept away by a tsunami in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
People inspect the wreckage of a car swept away by a tsunami in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo)
A man makes a phone call while standing among the debris near a damaged building after a tsunami hit Sunda Strait in Pandeglang, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018.
A man makes a phone call while standing among the debris near a damaged building after a tsunami hit Sunda Strait in Pandeglang, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018. EPA/ADI WEDA
People inspect the damage at a tsunami-ravaged neighbourhood in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018.
People inspect the damage at a tsunami-ravaged neighbourhood in Carita, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (AP Photo)
An Indonesian man sits down among the ruins of houses after a tsunami hit Sunda Strait in Anyer, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018.
An Indonesian man sits down among the ruins of houses after a tsunami hit Sunda Strait in Anyer, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018. EPA/DIAN TRIYULI HANDOKO
A view of damage with a car sitting among debris after a tsunami hit the Sunda Strait in Pandeglang, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018.
A view of damage with a car sitting among debris after a tsunami hit the Sunda Strait in Pandeglang, Banten, Indonesia, 23 December 2018. EPA/ADI WEDA

“Next wave entered the hotel area where I was staying and downed cars on the road behind it,” he wrote. “Managed to evacuate with my family to higher ground (through) forest paths and villages, where we are taken care of (by) the locals. Were unharmed, thankfully.”

The worst-affected area was the Pandeglang region of Java’s Banten province, which encompasses Ujung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, the agency said.

READ MORE: Volcano triggers tsunami in Indonesia, killing at least 43, injuring 600

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.”

WATCH: The science behind Indonesia’s recent disasters

The science behind Indonesia’s recent disasters
The science behind Indonesia’s recent disasters

At the Vatican, Pope Francis prayed for the dead, the missing and the homeless in Indonesia, telling tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that his thoughts were with victims “struck by violent natural calamities.”

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted support for Indonesia: “We are praying for recovery and healing. America is with you!”

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On Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered condolences and said the Canadian government is ready to offer assistance if needed.

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 wandered in the debris.Tourists who were enjoying the long holiday weekend ahead of Christmas were also affected.

“I had to run, as the wave passed the beach and landed 15-20 m inland,” said Norwegian Oystein Lund Andersen, in a Facebook post. The self-described photographer and volcano enthusiast said he was taking pictures of the volcano when he suddenly saw the water racing toward him. He and his family fled safely to higher ground.

WATCH: Indonesia village ‘wiped off the map’ after earthquake, tsunami

Indonesia village ‘wiped off the map’ after earthquake, tsunami
Indonesia village ‘wiped off the map’ after earthquake, tsunami

The damage became apparent after daybreak Sunday. Nine hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged by the waves. Broken chunks of concrete and splintered sticks of wood littered hard-hit coastal areas, turning beach getaways popular with Jakarta residents into near ghost towns. Vehicles were tossed into the rubble or were buried under collapsed roofs. Debris from thatch-bamboo shacks was strewn along beaches.

Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out, and weeping relatives identified the dead.

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Scientists, including those from Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics agency, said the tsunami could have been caused by landslides — either above ground or under water — on the steep slope of the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano. The scientists also cited tidal waves caused by the full moon.

WATCH: Indonesia police rescue child from rubble after deadly tsunami

Indonesia police rescue child from rubble after deadly tsunami
Indonesia police rescue child from rubble after deadly tsunami

The 305 m-high Anak Krakatau, whose name means “Child of Krakatoa,” lies on an island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands, linking the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea. It has been erupting since June and did so again about 24 minutes before the tsunami, the geophysics agency said.

The volcanic island formed over years after the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, one of the largest, most devastating in recorded history. That disaster killed more than 30,000 people, launched far-reaching tsunamis and created so much ash that day was turned to night in the area and a global temperature drop was recorded.

Most of the island sank into a volcanic crater under the sea, and the area remained calm until the 1920s, when Anak Krakatau began to rise from the site. It continues to grow each year and erupts periodically although it is much smaller than Krakatoa.

READ MORE: Indonesia earthquake recovery will be complete by 2021, officials say

WATCH: Aerial footage shows scale of damage from Indonesia tsunami

Aerial footage shows scale of damage from Indonesia tsunami
Aerial footage shows scale of damage from Indonesia tsunami
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Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Center Indonesia, said Saturday’s tsunami was likely caused by a flank collapse — when a big section of a volcano’s slope gives way. It’s possible for an eruption to trigger a landslide above ground or beneath the ocean, both capable of producing waves, he said.

“Actually, the tsunami was not really big, only 1 metre,” said Prasetya, who has studied Krakatoa. “The problem is people always tend to build everything close to the shoreline.”

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and home to 260 million people, lies along the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. Roads and infrastructure are poor in many areas of the disaster-prone country, making access difficult in the best of conditions.

Saturday’s tsunami also rekindled memories of the massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake that hit Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004. It spawned a giant tsunami off Sumatra island, killing more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries — the majority in Indonesia.

Associated Press writers Margie Mason and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed.

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