Vatican News
Indentification center in Berkah Hospital in Pandeglang, Banten province, 25 December Indentification center in Berkah Hospital in Pandeglang, Banten province, 25 December  (AFP or licensors)

Aid agencies begin to reach survivors in Indonesia

At least 429 people died when a tsunami struck Indonesia's coast on Saturday. Aid agencies and volunteers are beginning to reach survivors.

By Alastair Wanklyn

In a town in western Java dozens of wooden houses have collapsed. Workers are using mechanical diggers to shift wreckage so vehicles can get through.

Several villages are cut off by blocked roads and broken bridges, officials said.

Indonesian television showed residents climbing over the remains of collapsed homes. The manager of one hotel said more than 100 people died at that site alone.

The national rescue agency said many people remain missing. The search is focusing on two areas, including a beach district popular with Indonesians at Christmas.

Meanwhile, the nation's disasters agency said around 16,000 people are displaced. 

Volunteer groups headed to the area. They set up kitchens at shelters to cook meals. 

China was among countries pledging help. The foreign ministry in Beijing said it would distribute funds through aid agencies such as the Red Cross.

One Red Cross official said the agency is sending 22 water trucks to help prevent the spread of disease. The official said the need for clean water was one lesson learned following the Indian Ocean tsunami 14 years ago, in which an estimated quarter of a million people died.

Listen to Alastair Wanklyn's report
25 December 2018, 16:32