Indonesian diaspora left in state of despair by 'nightmare' tsunami

Ottawa's Indonesian community has been left reeling by yet another natural disaster after a powerful tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Java on the weekend.

Weekend tsunami just the latest disaster to strike the country

Retty Hendarna says the recent string of natural disasters to strike her homeland of Indonesia feels like 'a nightmare.' (Radio-Canada)

Ottawa's Indonesian community has been left reeling by yet another natural disaster after a powerful tsunami devastated the island of Java on the weekend.

More than 400 people have been declared dead in the wake of Saturday's tsunami, which struck Java's west coast following a crater collapse on the volcanic island of Anak Krakatau.

Thick ash clouds continued to spew Tuesday from the island.

"I feel so sad, because there's so many people [who] lost their lives, lost their family," said Rumondang Sumartiani with the Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa.

"We are all so thankful that the people of Canada feel concerned and [that] they are ready to help."

More than 1,400 people were injured in the tsunami, and with a high-tide warning extended to Wednesday. thousands of residents have had to move to higher ground.

As of Dec. 25, at least 150 people remain missing.

Children affected by the tsunami that came crashing down the Sunda Strait collect snacks from a collapsed shop on Dec. 25, 2018. More than 400 people have been declared dead since the tsunami struck. (Reuters)

'Again and again and again'

The tsunami comes roughly five months after a pair of earthquakes struck the island of Lombok, killing dozens of people.

Then, in October, more than 1,500 people died when an earthquake and tsunami devastated the island of Sulawesi.

"For me, it's just like having a nightmare," said Retty Hendarna, who's lived in Ottawa for the past three decades. "Like, why is it [happening] again and again and again?"

Hendarna said her sisters live near where the most recent tsunami hit, and she was "a little bit nervous" when she couldn't initially get a hold of them.

However, eventually she found out they were safe.

"The feeling is very hard, because we just finished our fundraising for [the last] tsunami," said Hendarna, a former vice-president with the Indonesian Canadian Congress. "And here, we're having another one."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered his condolences on social media and has said the Canadian government is ready to offer assistance if needed.

With files from Yasmine Mehdi and Reuters