Multiple weather events strike Indonesian communities

Map of Southeast Asian Country of Indonesia and Detailed Map of Sunda Strait Area Between Sumatra Island and Java Island

ChrisO [Public domain, Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Map of Southeast Asian Country of Indonesia and Detailed Map of Sunda Strait Area Between Sumatra Island and Java Island

Austin Liu, News Editor, Reporter

The ground shakes underneath people’s feet. Ash and smoke arise from the opening of a volcano. Strong waves grow and smash onto coastal areas. During the past few months, the Southeast Asian country of Indonesia was impacted heavily and seriously by destructive weather events including a tsunami, volcano eruption, and earthquakes. Various communities are now beginning to organize themselves and rebuild economies and government systems after the major damage that was caused by these events.

The tsunami, which traveled towards the southern coast of Sumatra island and the western coast of Java island in the Sunda Strait separating the two islands during the late hours of Dec. 22, 2018, was believed to be produced from the eruption of a nearby caldera. This caldera, Krakatau or Krakatoa, includes an active volcano, Anak Krakatau, which is well-known for a massive eruption the summer of 1883. Earlier during 2018, an explosion occurred which “broke the roof atop the monumental magma reservoir beneath Krakatoa on August 26th of that very year, permitting seawater to aggressively mix with the violently depressurizing magma.” This event later caused “four gigantic explosions heard as far away as Western Australia, the shockwaves of which travelled around the planet seven times” and prevented sunlight from reaching land. This eruption was able to produce the tsunami “as parts of the volcano, fractured by the eruption and no longer upheld by that buoyant magma, fell into the sea, creating a wall of water reaching heights of 36.6 meters (120 feet) in some places” which drove a landslide-causing tsunami to formation. (Tsunami Possibly Triggered By Anak Krakatau Strikes Indonesia. Here’s What You Need To Know) An estimation for lives lost in the initial eruption earlier in the year is about 36,000 lives. (Weatherwatch: Krakatoa – death, destruction and dust)

The tsunami reached coastal areas on the two islands, causing these areas to be flooded and scattered with various items carried away by the water. As the tsunami struck the coasts of these two islands, a local band named Seventeen was performing. Due to the water from the tsunami carrying away the stage, two members of the band lost their lives and other people attending the performance are missing. An estimated over 1,400 people were injured and more than 600 homes, 60 shops, and 420 vessels were damaged from this event. (Indonesia tsunami caused by collapse of volcano) In addition, the volcano-produced tsunami caused more than 400 lives to be lost and 40,000 people to be displaced. (Volcano three-quarters blown away by Indonesia tsunami eruption)

The national government of Indonesia responded to the recent tsunami, admitting that the event was one that it was not able to successfully expect and for which announce a warning to the public. (Indonesia tsunami: Grim search for survivors continues as death toll reaches 430)

The major effect of the volcano eruption on the Anak Krakatau volcano is that its volume and altitude are decreased from its original measurements, bringing the volume of the volcano to “a volume of 40-70m cubic meters having lost up to 180m cubic meters since the 22 December disaster, according to Indonesia’s volcanology agency” and the altitude from an altitude of “338 metres to 110 metres.” (Volcano three-quarters blown away by Indonesia tsunami eruption)

Indonesia’s location is one that is unique as it lies on part of the Ring of Fire, a circular shaped region of the World that is known for its high earthquake and volcanic activity. In this area are other countries in Asia, Australia, North America, and South America that border the Pacific Ocean such as the Philippines, Japan, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Chile, and New Zealand. Specifically for Indonesia, the country, which consists of about 17,000 islands, was affected by more than 11,000 earthquakes in total in 2018. (Indonesia was rocked by more than 11,000 earthquakes last year)

Earlier in 2018, two different areas of the country felt major earthquakes. From July to August, multiple earthquakes produced landslides which caused serious damage to homes and other buildings in the northern Lombok region. The major earthquake that affected the island of Lombok measured about a 6.9 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale and caused more than 400 people to lose their lives. (Lombok earthquake death toll surges above 400) In September, an earthquake that measured about a 7.4 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale produced a tsunami and caused destruction to communities on the island of Sulawesi. An estimated more than 2,000 people lost their lives from this event, and more than 130,000 people are still displaced as analysis of the effects of this event was continuing in December. (Indonesia: Tsunami/Earthquakes – Sep 2018)

To support efforts happening in Indonesia to rebuild communities and offer care to affected families, people can donate to a few of the below organizations that are involved in those areas and are trying to achieve those goals:

  • World Vision:
  • Singapore Red Cross:
  • United States Fund for UNICEF:
  • Mercy Corps:
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