Why Indonesia needs better tsunami warning systems

Source(s)
Down To Earth

By Akshit Sangomla

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The [Anak Krakatau] volcano’s first major eruption on December 22 had triggered a tsunami which killed close to 300 people in the coastal areas of the Sunda Strait. Experts believe that massive underwater landslides following the volcanic eruption are responsible for the tsunami, but more studies are needed to pin point the exact reasons.

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In the case of the Krakatau volcanic eruption, seismic activity was not as high and the warning systems did not receive the information. It is also difficult to keep track of underwater landslides which are believed to be the cause of the current tsunami.

But there were other warning signs that should have been taken into account. The volcano has been continuously spewing ash, smoke and other material since July this year. Images taken in July, August and September show an increase in the amount of material coming out of the volcano’s vent.

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While officials say that the [warning for October's Sulawesi tsunami] was lifted only after the water came crashing in, doubts prevail if people were given enough information about the impending danger. Earlier, on August 19, there was a series of three earthquakes in Indonesia and the South Pacific region. On August 5, an earthquake in Lombok had caused widespread destruction killing around 430 people.

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The region falls in the Ring of Fire, a horseshoe shaped belt of seismic activity hotspots like volcanoes, earthquake epicentres and tectonic plate boundaries. This means that the people of Indonesia have always been vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. But the last two events have been highly unusual and without warning, causing the unwanted destruction and loss of life. This requires a major relook at the tsunami warning systems for Indonesia.

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