Tsunami in Indonesia: what will be the new alert system that government promises for 2019?
Giant waves last Saturday were triggered by a volcano and occurred without any prior detection, killing 429 people.
Indonesia has said it will build a new alert system capable of detecting tsunamis caused by landslides, days after giant waves caused by a volcanic eruption to kill at least 429 people.
The installation of the new structure should start next year, a government agency told the BBC.
The activity of the Anak Krakatau volcano is believed to have caused landslides on the ocean floor, triggering last Saturday’s tsunami.
The Indonesian government says about 150 people are missing and 16,000 have been evicted.
Rescue workers with excavators and cranes are visiting the town, seeking survivors among the ruins in the hardest hit areas of the islands of Sumatra and Java.
How will the system work?
The new mechanism would work by detecting the size of the waves, Indonesian BBC service Iyan Turyana, a spokesman for a local government agency, said, as existing technologies were unable to predict the tsunami that devastated coastal towns around the Sunda Strait.
The system had been set up to monitor earthquakes, but not seafloor slides or volcanic eruptions, which can also generate deadly waves.
Due to lack of resources, vandalism, and technical flaws, there is no functional tsunami warning system in Indonesia since 2012.
But experts say that even if there were sensors near the volcano, the warning time in that last tsunami would be minimal given the proximity between Anak Krakatau and the coast.
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How did a deadly tsunami strike the Indonesian coast without an earthquake before?
Residents of towns near the volcano have been told to stay away from beaches amid fears that new eruptions may trigger a new tsunami.
What is the current situation?
Rescue work has been hampered by obstruction of roads and torrential rains, according to BBC journalist Sameer Hashmi.
There are fears that contaminated water can spread disease.
Food, water, blankets, and medical services are slowly coming to remote areas, and thousands of people have been sleeping in tents and temporary shelters such as mosques and schools.
“Everyone is still in a state of panic,” Atmadja Suhar, an authority in the city of Labuan, told Reuters. “We often have disasters, but not bad ones like that … God willing we can rebuild.”
The tsunami occurred at 9:30 p.m., during a local holiday.
The waves destroyed hundreds of buildings, sweeping cars and plucking trees at several popular tourist destinations, including the Tanjung Lesung resort in western Java.
One of the most shocking accounts of the tragedy was that of the band Seventeen, who performed at the resort when the waves invaded the stages and took all the members.
How common are tsunamis in Indonesia?
Indonesia is subject to tsunamis by being located in the Ring of Fire – a line of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that occur on almost the entire Pacific Rim
In September, more than 2,000 people died when a powerful earthquake struck a nearby area of Sulawesi island, causing a tsunami that engulfed the coastal town of Palu.
On December 26, 2004, a series of giant waves triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean killed about 228 thousand people in 13 countries, mainly in Indonesia.
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However, tsunamis caused by volcanic activity are less frequent.
In August 1883, Krakatoa had one of the most violent eruptions ever recorded.
Giant tsunamis, with waves up to 41 meters high, killed more than 30,000 people.
Thousands more were killed by incandescent ashes.
The eruptions were equivalent to the explosion of 200 megatons of dynamite – about 13,000 times the power of the atomic bomb launched at Hiroshima in 1945. As a result, global temperature dropped by more than one degree Celsius the following year, and the volcanic island virtually disappeared.
Anak Krakatau emerged in 1927 in the caldera formed during the eruption of Krakatoa.