Indonesia Tsunami: Death Toll Crosses 280

Indonesia: One of the world’s most disaster-prone nations, was hit by a “volcano” tsunami late Saturday that left a trail of death and destruction. Authorities said the tsunami may have been triggered by an abnormal tidal surge due to a new moon and an underwater landslide following the eruption of Anak Krakatoa volcano, which means the “child” of the fabled “Krakatoa”.

The ensuing waves hit the coast of southern Sumatra and western tip of Java destroying hundreds of buildings about 9:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) local time, the national disaster management agency said in a statement.

It is worth noting that the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in 1883 caused one of the deadliest tsunamis. From the resulting caldera left behind, the new Anak Krakatoa island emerged in 1927. Anak Krakatoa is one of 127 active volcanoes which run the length of the archipelago.

Indonesia straddles the so-called Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, where tectonic plates collide and a large portion of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. The southeast Asian country has witnessed some of the deadliest tsunamis in the past centuries including the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which ranks among the world’s most destructive natural disasters.

Here’s a quick look at some of the tsunamis to hit Indonesia over the centuries.

Feb. 10, 1797 – Sumatra

An earthquake occurred at 10:00 pm local time, resulting in a tsunami near Padang that was particularly severe. It was the first in a series of great earthquakes that ruptured part of the Sumatran segment of the Sunda megathrust – a 5,500-km geological fault that runs from Myanmar in the north, and then along the southwestern side of Sumatra, to the south of Java and Bali before terminating near Australia.

The earthquake caused the collapse or damage of many houses. The tsunami surge drove an English sailing ship of 150–200 tonnes, moored in the Arau River, about a kilometer inland, destroying several houses as it went. Smaller boats were driven up to 1.8 km upstream.

Only two deaths were reported from Padang itself but many more from Air Manis, where several people who climbed trees to escape the tsunami were found dead in the branches the next day. The Batu Islands were also reported to be affected.

Nov. 25, 1833 – Sumatra

An earthquake with an estimated 8.8-9.2 magnitude around 10:00 pm local time caused a large tsunami that flooded the southwestern coast of the island. Only sketchy information is available about the extent of damage caused by the earthquake or the subsequent tsunami.

The earthquake lasted five minutes in Bengkulu and about three minutes in Padang. Tremors were also felt as far away as Singapore and Java. Tsunami waves were reported from Bengkulu, Pulau Cinco, Indrapurah, Padang, and Pariaman. While no deaths were reported in Bengkulu, only one native was reported dead in Padang but an exact death toll wasn’t available.

Tsunami damage appears to have been greater at Indrapura and Bengkulu than at Padang. Boats were torn from their moorings in Pariaman and Padang, but the descriptions imply that the water did not surge over the riverbanks as it had in 1797.

Modelling of the tsunami suggests that most of the energy would have been radiated out into the Indian Ocean, sparing most coastal population centers outside Sumatra itself. There is also a report of significant damage in the Seychelles

Feb. 16, 1861 – Sumatra

This third and the final earthquake in a sequence that ruptured parts of the Sumatran segment of the Sunda megathrust caused a devastating tsunami leading to combined casualties of several thousands. Tremors from the earthquake were felt as far away as the Malay peninsula and the eastern part of Java. Six major aftershocks were felt over the next seven months.

Villages along the seaward side of the Batu Islands were devastated. At least 500 km of coastline were damaged by the tsunami with run-ups of up to seven meters recorded on the southwest side of Nias.

Aug. 26-27, 1883 – Krakatoa eruption

Krakatoa, a volcano located in the Sunda Strait near Rakata, sits partially submerged in the water and still smoking after a great eruption that caused tsunamis that destroyed several towns and killed thousands of people, Indonesia, 1883. /Kean Collection Photo via VCG

Following four months of intense seismic activity that began on May 20, 1833, the Krakatoa volcano began to erupt on the afternoon of August 26 and peaked the next day leading to the destruction of over 70 percent of the island and is surrounding archipelago as the volcano collapsed into a caldera.

The resulting tsunamis caused over 36,600 deaths making the Krakatoa eruptions one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events of all times. The Javanese port town of Merak was destroyed by a 46-meter high tsunami.

Seismic activities following the eruptions were reported to have continued until February 1884, although subsequent analyses have rejected such a notion. Additional impacts were however felt from various parts of the world in the days and weeks after Krakatoa erupted.

Ships as far away as South Africa rocked as tsunamis hit them, and the bodies of victims were found floating in the ocean for months after the event. Smaller waves were recorded on tidal gauges as far away as the English Channel.

Sep. 30, 1899 – Seram Island

The island of Seram was jolted by a 7.8 earthquake accompanied by a 10-meter tsunami around 01:42 am local time. The devastating tsunami took 3,864 lives and swept away several villages completely. The areas that were struck hardest were all located on, or near, the Seram fracture line and included Hatusua (Piru-bay area), Paulohy-Samasuru and Makariki (Elpaputih-bay area), Tehoru, Wolu and Laimu (Taluti-bay area).

Jan. 21, 1917 – Bali

A small tsunami was observed on the southeastern coast of Bali after a 6.6 earthquake. While the quake triggered several landslides causing widespread damage across Bali that left a death toll of 1,500, the tsunami had no major impact.

Sep. 25, 1931 – Southwest Sumatra

The 7.3-7.5 earthquake had

its epicenter located between the Enggano Island and Sumatra, triggering a minor tsunami with one meter high waves. No deaths were reported.

Jan. 24, 1965 – Seram Sea

An 8.2 earthquake with an epicenter just off the southwestern coast of Sanana Island in eastern Indonesia at a depth of 28 km under the Seram Sea triggered a tsunami that caused damage in Sanana, Buru and Mangole. Up to 3,000 building and 14 bridges were destroyed on Sanana while 71 people were reported dead.

Aug. 14, 1968 – Sulawesi

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Sulawesi spawned a large tsunami with wave heights of 8-10 meters which killed roughly 200 people. The epicenter of earthquake was near the Celebes Sea and it sank the island of Tuguan.

Aug. 19, 1977 – Sumbawa

The 8.3 earthquake had its epicenter under the Indian Ocean about 290 km south of Bima in Sumbawa Island causing a tsunami that hit several locations on Sumba and Sumbawa.

The combined number of victims from both the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia was at least 107 confirmed dead and several dozen others missing, presumed dead; several sources combine the two for a total casualty figure of approximately 180 deaths and 1,100 injuries.

Jun. 3, 1994 – Java

The epicenter of the 7.8 earthquake was off the eastern part of southern Java coast, near the east end of the Java Trench. The resulting tsunami reached Java and Bali with runups up to 14 meters on the east Java coast and up to five meters on the southwestern Bali coast. Over 200 people were killed in the tsunami.

Feb. 17, 1996 – Biak

An 8.2 earthquake in Biak Island triggered a seven meter high tsunami which left 166 people dead, 423 injured and over 5,000 homeless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(With inputs from CGTN )

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