'Gravel Bandits' Stealing Entire Indonesian Islands

Thieves took more of Krakatoa than monster eruption did
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2010 1:20 AM CDT
Updated Mar 23, 2010 6:13 AM CDT
'Gravel Bandits' Stealing Entire Indonesian Islands
"I'm sure that the amount of material removed altogether is bigger than the volume destroyed by the Krakatoa explosion," an Indonesian official said.   (?Jean-Marc / Jhon-John / Jo BeLo)

Indonesia is missing a few islands because of black marketeers who have been hauling off huge amounts of sand and gravel to sell to construction projects elsewhere in Asia. At least 24 islands have disappeared completely since 2005, and illegal sand mining has ruined the fishing industries of many others, the Times of London reports.

Indonesia has banned the export of sand and soil, but corrupt officials often turn a blind eye to the theft. The people of Sebesi Island, a few miles away from Krakatoa, realized too late that a businessman who promised to make the island safe from the next volcanic eruption was actually stealing it. Officials believe the crook did more damage to the island—a national park and World Heritage Site—than the eruption that ripped it to pieces in 1883. (Read more Indonesia stories.)

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