Pope Francis has called for “everyone” to be united in prayer for those affected by a deadly tsunami, which struck Indonesia on 22 December, killing at least 281 and injuring more than a thousand.
“My thoughts go out right now to the populations of Indonesia, affected by violent natural disasters, which have caused serious losses in human lives, numerous people missing and homeless, and extensive material damage,” Pope Francis said after his Angelus prayer on Sunday 23 December.
“I invite everyone to join me in prayer for the victims and their loved ones,” he continued. He called for solidarity and support from the international community.
On Saturday, huge waves crashed without warning into coastal towns on the Indonesia islands of Sumatra and Java. At least 1,016 people were injured and more than 600 homes, 60 shops and 420 vessels damaged when the tsunami struck.
The death toll of 281 is expected to rise as 57 people were still missing on Monday 24 December. Hundreds of military personnel and volunteers are scouring beaches strewn with debris in search of survivors.
It was confirmed on 24 December that the giant waves were triggered by a huge section of Indonesian volcano, Anak Krakatau, collapsing into the sea.
Scientists have said that because the waves were triggered by a volcano rather than an earthquake, no tsunami warning were triggered. Coastal residents reported not seeing or feeling any warning signs before waves of up to three metres high surged in.
The spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, told a news conference that another tsunami could not be ruled out because of continued volcanic eruptions of Anak Krakatau.