High waves kill 10 people during beach ritual in Indonesia
JAKARTA — At least 10 Indonesians have died after tidal waves swept away a group of people meditating on a beach in the early hours of Sunday, police said.
The group of 23 held hands and meditated on Payangan beach in East Java province shortly after midnight.
“They were too close to the sea and couldn’t save themselves when the tidal waves came and took them away,” local police chief Hery Purnomo told TVOne.
Ten bodies had been recovered from the ocean and 12 people survived. Another person, a 40-year-old man, was still missing.
It was unclear what kind of ritual the group was performing in the predominantly Muslim region, Purnomo said, but it was led by a spiritual guru who survived the incident and would be questioned.
Local media reported that some of the victims, who were all from nearby towns, were related.
Regional military commander Batara Pangaribuan told TVOne that the beach was usually guarded and closed after dark, but the group somehow found a way to access it.
Authorities had warned visitors not to swim or get too close to the water due to recent reports of high waves.
“The beach has been relatively calm lately due to the pandemic and even if there are visitors, they would sit and not swim due to the high waves,” Pangaribuan said.
High tides and strong waves are common on Indonesian beaches, where safety measures for visitors are often lacking.
Last year, two domestic tourists died after being swept away by waves on a beach in Malang district, East Java.
And in 2019, five people vacationing on a beach in Lampung province died after being swept away by high waves.
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