Indonesia investigates after first large-scale tornado strikes

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 2:45 AM

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia was struck by a tornado of a scale previously unrecorded in the country that injured at least 33 people and damaged buildings, government officials said.

After the violent wind swept the town of Sumedang in West Java province on Wednesday, a climatologist at government research body BRIN Erma Yulihastin, said the agency would “reconstruct and investigate the tornado”.

In a post on social media app X, formerly known as Twitter, she said it was similar to the kind of violent winds that often occur in the northern hemisphere. Until now, only smaller tornadoes, known as “angin puting beliung” have been recorded in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said the injured people suffered slight injuries.

In a video seen by Reuters, the winds, pirouetting in the sky, sucked roofs of a factory. In another video broadcast by news channel Kompas TV, trees shook violently in the town’s main street.

A third video showed the front panel of a convenience store collapsing and residents screaming.

Kay Tiara, a Sumedang resident, told Reuters she had felt panic as the winds approached.

“My father was sitting in our terrace and suddenly he saw plastic just flying and twisting. Not long after that, the strong wind came near my house,” Kay said.

“The roof of my house immediately flew away. My family and I took cover inside my house,” she added.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia, Editing by Barbara Lewis)