Asia

Indonesia tsunami: Rock band Seventeen swept away by waves

Seventeen Image copyright Instagram/Seventeenbandid
Image caption (From L-R) Andi, Riefian, Bani and Herman were performing as the tsunami struck

One of the most shocking and heart-rending stories to emerge from the Indonesian tsunami is that of rock band Seventeen, who were performing in a marquee on the beach when waves came crashing through and swept them away.

If a lot of the soul-searching and commentary in Indonesia right now is about how there was absolutely no warning for the killer waves, this is the starkest illustration of that.

The footage of the event is startling for how quickly a scene of about 200 people gathered around tables listening rapt to the band, became one of surging waves as the singing turned into screams.

Three members of the band - the bassist, road manager, guitarist - and a crew member have been killed. The band's drummer remains missing.

The lead vocalist of the band is the only known survivor from the band so far and has been posting heartfelt updates on his Instagram account.

"We lost Bani [bassist] and Oki Wijaya [road manager]," said Riefian Fajarsyah in an Instagram video as he held back tears.

"Please pray that my wife Dylan and Herman [guitarist], Andi [drummer] and Ujang [crew] will be found soon."

One day later, he posted another picture to Instagram - with an update. Herman and Ujang had been found dead.

"Rest in peace Herman and Ujang," he said in the caption. "Andi, hurry back. I'm living alone... bro, please..."

Mr Fajarsyah's wife - Dylan Sahara - still remains missing.

"Today is your birthday, I want to be able to wish you [face-to-face]," said Riefian in an Instagram post on Monday. "Hurry back darling."

Others also posted about the ordeal with one crew member, named as Zack, reportedly describing his struggle underwater on Instagram Stories, saying he survived by clinging onto the stage that had been washed out by the wave.

Seventeen were well known on the Indonesian rock scene with several popular songs. Tributes have been pouring for the band who are originally from Yogyakarta, including from other Indonesian music celebrities such as Tantri, vocalist of the band Kotak.

The band had been performing on Tanjung Lesung beach in West Java on Saturday night. They were hired by state utility firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to perform for 200 company employees and their loved ones for an end-of-year party. According to Mr Fajarsyah they were two songs into the set when the waves came.

Some 29 PLN employees and their relatives were killed and 13 remain missing, PLN said in a news conference.

"The water washed away the stage which was located very close to the sea," the band said in a statement to news agency Reuters.

At least 281 people are dead and 1,106 injured after coastal towns on the islands of Sumatra and Java were hit by the tsunami on Saturday night.

It is believed that undersea landslides from the Anak Krakatau volcano had triggered the tsunami. Anak Krakatau erupted again on Sunday - and there are fears that it could trigger a new tsunami.

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