Volcano Collapse Blamed for Killer Tsunami

No warning was issued before disaster
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2018 6:07 AM CST
Volcano Collapse Blamed for Killer Tsunami
This aerial shot taken on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, shows Mount Anak Krakatau as it erupts in the Java Strait, Indonesia.   (Nurul Hidayat/Bisnis Indonesia via AP)

Fourteen years after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, Indonesia is counting the victims of another killer wave. The death toll in the Saturday tsunami has now hit 281, with dozens more missing and around 1,000 people injured, the BBC reports. People near the island volcano of Anak Krakatau—"Child of Krakatoa"—have been warned to stay away from beaches in case fresh volcanic activity leads to more underwater landslides and more tsunamis. Officials have confirmed that Saturday's wave was caused by an underwater landslide that involved the collapse of a large section of the volcano's southern flank in the strait that separates Java from Sumatra. Thousands of soldiers, police officers, and volunteers are still searching for survivors amid the debris, the AP reports.

Officials say there was no tsunami warning because the wave was not triggered by an earthquake, the Guardian reports. Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says a new early warning system must be built—especially since the buoy network put in place after the 2004 disaster has fallen into disuse because of vandalism and budget shortages. Experts, however, aren't sure whether a warning system could have helped after Saturday's tsunami, which came after the volcano had been erupting for months. "It seems like the volcano is active at the moment and it may happen again,” says University of Queensland Teresa Ubide said. The volcano is near the shoreline, so "there wouldn’t be much time to warn because it’s close and the tsunamis can travel very fast,"she says. (Video captured the horrifying moment when Saturday's tsunami pulled a band into the sea.)

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