Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Death Toll Rises from Surprise Tsunami
EDM Monday Briefing: Death Toll Rises from Surprise Tsunami

EDM Monday Briefing: Death Toll Rises from Surprise Tsunami


By Kim Arsenault
Contributor, EDM Digest

Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 26, 2018: A volunteer firefighter was killed while en route to a fire call in New Jersey; a small plane crashed in between two houses in South Dakota and killed one person; a swarm of earthquakes in connection to the eruption of Mount Etna caused damages in Sicily; the death toll continues to rise in Indonesia following a deadly undetected tsunami; a Delta Airlines plane made an emergency landing on a remote Alaskan island Tuesday; thousands of patients who received services at a surgery center in New Jersey are being alerted they are at risk of infection; heavy rains are hampering rescue efforts along the Java coast as authorities caution residents to stay away from shorelines; and eight people are dead and more than 20 injured following a bus hijacking in China.

1. A volunteer New Jersey firefighter was killed Christmas Day in a car crash while en route to a fire call to help others. The accident occurred Tuesday morning at around 6:20 a.m., when Natalie N. Dempsey, 21, was headed to a fire call and lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a guardrail. Police, along with firefighters who responded to the fire call, arrived at the accident. Dempsey, the vice-president of the South Jersey volunteer fire squad, was pronounced dead at the scene.

2. A small plane crashed between two homes in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Christmas evening, killing at least one person and sparking a small fire that firefighters were able to quickly contain. The crash allegedly affected at least four homes and the person that died was believed to be the occupant of the small airplane. Police are still investigating the scene to determine if there were any other people on board the plane or ground that may have been killed when the aircraft crashed.

3. A swarm of nearly 1,000 small earthquakes originating from the Mount Etna volcano sparked a larger, 4.3 magnitude quake that rocked eastern Sicily very early Wednesday morning. The quake, although relatively small, caused some damage to rural homes, toppled a church's steeple, opened cracks on highways and caused minor injuries to about 10 people. The earthquakes are part of the ongoing eruption of Mount Etna that has been occurring all week.

4. An eruption of Anak Krakatau in Indonesia led to the collapse of a steep slope of the volcano, triggering a deadly tsunami that slammed -- without warning -- into the Java coastline a short time later on Saturday, December 22. The death toll is expected to continue to rise as rescue teams reach coastal villages to help search for victims. Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency stated that at least 373 people were killed, 681 homes were destroyed along with 69 hotels and villas, and 420 boats along the Sunda Strait were damaged. The disaster agency also noted that at least 128 people were still missing and 1,459 people were injured as a result of the surprise tsunami.

5. Passengers onboard a Delta Airlines flight on Christmas Eve were delayed over 12 hours when the plane was forced to make an emergency landing on a small Alaskan island due to an engine issue. Delta Flight Number 128 had 194 passengers on board when the airplane, traveling from Beijing to Seattle, lost an engine and had to land at a U.S. military base in Shemya, Alaska, a small island in the Aleutian Islands chain. Delta dispatched another aircraft to pick up the passengers, which then arrived safely with all passengers and crew at Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport at around 10:15 p.m. Monday night.

6. A surgery center in northern New Jersey is alerting at least 3,778 patients, who received services at its facility in 2018, that they may have been exposed to infections. A state investigation found unsanitary conditions at the HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, including lapses in infection control in sanitization/cleaning instruments and the injections of medications -- all of which may have exposed patients to bloodborne pathogens. Health officials shut down the facility from September 7 to September 28. While the risk of infection may be low, the surgery center is still urging those notified to have a free blood test to check for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

7. Authorities in Indonesia were cautioning residents to stay away from coastal areas in Java as officials monitor weather and wave conditions, along with volcanic activity, for the threat of another tsunami. Officials fear another collapse of the volcano's crater wall, which could cause another massive wave. Extreme weather that includes heavy rains is also expected to continue across the area, making search and rescue difficult, as teams were delayed due to muddied roads that prevented the movement of heavy machinery to affected areas along the coast.

8. A man with a knife hijacked a bus in China and ran it into traffic in the city of Longyan in the Fujian Province. Eight people were killed and more than 20 people were injured when the bus careened into motor scooters, a taxi and a car. The suspect, allegedly a disgruntled, unemployed man who had a dispute with local government officials, was wrestled to the ground and taken into custody by law enforcement.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.