Sole boy band tsunami survivor buries wife
THE sole survivor of an Indonesian pop group swept away in the tsunami at the weekend has buried his TV star wife, one day after laying three bandmates to rest.
Seventeen frontman Riefian Fajarsyah posted a series of heartbreaking tributes to Dylan Sahara, who would have turned 26 on Sunday.
The 35-year-old posted a poignant video of himself tenderly stroking his wife's coffin in the hearse on the way to her funeral yesterday.
"How can I live without you Dylan Sahara? Please send prayers for my wife Dylan so she will be at peace," he wrote to his two million Instagram followers.
"I love you, my dear wife," he captioned another portrait. "Thank God I met my wife," he said alongside another.
Sahara, an actor and the daughter of a prominent Indonesian politician, was among dozens of people washed away at Seventeen's beachside performance in Java on Saturday night.
Eerie video footage had shown fans clapping and cheering the concert seconds before a huge wave smashed onto the stage.
"My wife is not a perfect human, nor am I. But she never stopped trying to be a good wife," Fajarsyah wrote of Sahara, who faithfully attended all of Seventeen's performances.
"I know you tried your best and it wasn't easy for you but you did it baby. For me, she was the best wife God could have given me "
The group's drummer, Windu Andi Darmawan was found dead on Monday as his bandmates, bassist Muhammad Awal Purbani, guitarist Herman Sikumbang, manager Oki Wijaya and roadie Rukmana Rustam were being laid to rest.
Farjarsyah also made an emotional plea to friends and fans to send him any photographs they had of his wife or the two of them together because they had both lost their mobile phones in the disaster.
The death toll from Saturday's disaster has doubled to more than 500, with an estimated 1400 injured and at least another 200 missing.
Destitute survivors in makeshift camps are being hit by diseases from insanitary conditions and fears of another giant wave striking the region.
Yesterday, as rumour of a second tsunami spread in the battered coastal village Sumber Jaya, hundreds of panicked residents, many clutching small children, ran for higher ground.
Police and soldiers joined civilians in the frantic exodus, shouting, "Water is coming! Water is coming!" and reciting verses from the Koran as emergency messages were broadcast over mosque speakers, according to AP.
It proved to be a false alarm - the rising water was a tidal surge and not a tsunami - but a similar frenzy broke out in Tanjung Lesung, another tsunami-stricken area located hours away, as unsettled survivors of the tragedy remained jumpy and traumatised.
Meanwhile, Christmas celebrations were replaced by sombre prayers, as church leaders called on Christians across Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, to pray for tsunami victims.
Unlike other tsunamis that have hit disaster-prone Indonesia following large earthquakes, Saturday's big waves blasted ashore at night without warning.
The eruption of Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatoa, a volcano in the Sunda Strait,
is believed to have created a landslide on the volcano's slope, displacing a large volume of water that slammed into the islands of Java and Sumatra.
People in Sumur village, which has been slow to receive aid due to roads being cut off, remained stunned by how quickly the tsunami hit.
The beach, just a few kilometres from the tourist island of Umang near Java's western tip, is popular for snorkelling and other water activities.
The tsunami decimated the area, ripping houses from their foundations and bulldozing concrete buildings.
Scientists have said the tsunami's waves were recorded in several places at about 1m high, but residents of Sumur insisted they towered more than 3m.
They said a soaring white wall of water roared towards them at high speeds, ripping trees out of the ground by their roots.
"There was no sign of a tsunami when we were at the beach. The sea didn't recede," Tati Hayati, a housewife who was enjoying the evening with 10 other people when the disaster hit, told AP. "It was calm and bright with the full moon."
When Ms Hayati spotted high, fast-moving waves launching towards the shore, she ran to her car and managed to get inside but she couldn't outrun it. She said the car was struck by three waves, breaking out the back window and filling the vehicle with gushing water.
"We were locked inside. The car was swaying in the waves and we thought we would
all die," she said.
"We almost could not breathe and I almost gave up when I groped the key in the water and managed to open the door, and the water began to recede. We got out of the car and ran to safety."
The disaster was compounded because it occurred over a busy holiday weekend before Christmas when many people had fled crowded cities such as Indonesian capital Jakarta to relax at popular beach areas.
On Christmas Day, Pastor Markus Taekz said his Rahmat Pentecostal Church in the hard-hit area of Carita did not celebrate with joyous songs this year.
Instead, only about 100 people showed up for the Christmas service, which usually brings in double that number. Many congregation members had already left the area for locations away from the disaster zone.
"This is an unusual situation because we have a very bad disaster that killed hundreds of our sisters and brothers in Banten," Pastor Taekz said, referring to the province on Java island. "So our celebration is full of grief."
The death toll climbed to 429 on Tuesday, with more than 1400 people injured and at least 128 missing, according to Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
He said more than 16,000 people were displaced and there was an urgent need for heavy equipment in the Sumur subdistrict near Ujung Kulon National Park to help get aid flowing and reach people who may be injured or trapped.
Military troops, government personnel and volunteers continued searching along debris-strewn beaches for victims.
Yellow, orange and black body bags were laid out where victims were found, and weeping relatives identified the dead. Many searched for missing loved ones at hospital morgues.
Head of Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency Dwikorita Karnawati said Saturday's tsunami was likely caused by volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau and so could not have been picked up by sensors, which monitor conventional earthquakes responsible for more than 90 per cent of Indonesia's tsunamis.
The volcano formed in the early part of the 20th century near the site of the cataclysmic 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which killed more than 30,000 people and hurled so much ash that it turned day to night in the area and reduced global temperatures.
Ms Karnawati said the tsunami was probably caused by the collapse of a big section of the volcano's slope.
Anak Krakatau has been erupting since June and did so again 24 minutes before the tsunami, according to the geophysics agency.
Other scientists have said an underwater landslide may also have contributed to the disaster.
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.
In September, thousands were believed killed by a quake and tsunami that hit Indonesia's Sulawesi island. A quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people in August.
In 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island spawned the massive Boxing Day tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.
- with wires