The Indonesian Tsunami and Quakes

The world’s largest island country; an island surrounded with clear blue water and which happens to be one of the busiest holiday spots- Indonesia- consists of more than 17 thousand islands located in southeast Asia, and rests between the vast Indian and the Pacific ocean. With Bali being one of the popular holiday destinations, Indonesia is well known around the world. Unfortunately, in 2018, Indonesia was known to the world for the various hits it took from mother nature. There were a series of earthquakes and tsunami which brought mass destruction to the land. These earthquakes destroyed hundreds of houses and tsunamis brought death to thousands of people. Earthquake is a common phenomenon to the land of Indonesia due to its location in between two oceans. But in the year 2018, the magnitude and the time gap between these quakes were drastic. The land was hit by these quakes back-to-back within a period of 4 months, leaving the people with no sufficient time to get back on their feet.

It all began in the month of August 2018, where, around 500 people were killed and 1500 were left injured on the tourist island Lombok due to a 6.9 magnitude quake. In the following month of September, on the 28th, Minahasa Peninsula was struck by a large earthquake. Its epicentre was located in Donggala Regency, Central Sulawesi. The magnitude was recorded at 7.5. The quake was traced 77km away from the capital Palu. The shakes were felt in Samarinda on East Kalimantan and as far as Tawau, Malaysia. This was followed by a sequence of foreshocks. Right after the mainshock, a tsunami alert was issued, but called off within half an hour. But unfortunately, Palu was struck by a localised tsunami which swept away shore-lying houses and buildings. The tsunamis and earthquakes collectively brought 2256 people to their ends.

During the “merry” Christmas times and the holiday season for the rest of the world, Indonesians took another devastating hit from the waters. On December 26, more than 400 people were reported dead in western Java and southern Sumatra islands after a tsunami hit the land on December 22. The Indonesian geological services assume that the tsunami was likely to be caused by undersea landslides in the Sunda Strait, which led to an eruption by the Anak Krakatoa Volcano. This eruption from Anak Krakatoa, caused yet another tsunami to hit the shores, that swept through Sunda Strait, and resulted in the death of nearly 430 people with tens of thousands of them displaced. The tsunami was triggered by the volcanic eruption, which further led to the sinking of a 64 hectare chunk of Anak Krakatau to slide into the ocean. Indonesia’s volcanology agency announced on  December 27 that the alert status for Anak Krakatau has been raised to the second highest level. The government has issued a ‘No-Go zone.’ World Vision, an organisation that is simultaneously responding to earthquakes on the Lombok island as well as the Central Sulawesi, provides aid to children and families in some of the worst-affected areas in the districts of Serang and Pandeglang, situated on the west coast of Java’s Banten province. The government is providing shelter and food for those who have lost their homes.

But the Indonesian government and its authorities were criticized for the state of the country’s tsunami detection and warning system. In spite of the knowledge of the fact that Indonesia experiences earthquakes greater than a magnitude of 6 almost yearly, the government failed to take necessary precautions with regards to the possible outcomes of these earthquakes. According to reports, the warning system has been out of action since 2012, and President Joko Widodo has ordered the Meteorology, Climatology and Geological Agency to install better and new tsunami detectors that can provide early warnings to the community. The people affected by the series of tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes will require help for years to rebuild their communities, lives and homes. The negligence of the government has put the citizens and the beautiful land of Indonesia in grave danger. The events that took place, serve as a realisation that, the force of nature is stronger than the force of man.

Picture Credits: WorldVision

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