Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
A tsunami struck Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, the expanse between the islands of Java and Sumatra, on the night of December 22, local time leaving over 222 people killed and hundreds injured.
According to scientists, it appears that an underwater landslide was triggered by volcanic activity at the site of the infamous Krakatoa volcano – specifically, Anak Krakatau, the frequently erupting baby volcano growing in the annihilated heart of the older, larger edifice. This landslide pushed away plenty of water, and a tsunami was generated.
Unlike the end-of-September tsunami that killed thousands of Indonesians on the island of Sulawesi, this one wasn’t generated by an earthquake.
In crude terms, earthquakes generate tsunamis when a fault slips, and a large chunk of rock manages to push a sizeable amount of water out of the way. This water travels across the bay, sea, or ocean, piles up near land, and rushes ashore.
The 1,000-foot-high Anak Krakatau volcano, located about 124 miles southwest of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, has been erupting since June. In July, authorities widened its no-go areas to 1.2 miles from the crater.
However, Anak Krakatau remains much smaller than Krakatoa when it blew in 1883, killing more than 30,000 people. Krakatoa launched far-reaching tsunamis and created so much ash, day was turned to night in the area and a global temperature drop was recorded. The violent explosions sank most of the island into the volcanic crater under the sea, and the area remained calm until the 1920s, when Anak Krakatau began to rise from the site. It continues to grow each year and erupts periodically.
Nine hotels and hundreds of homes were heavily damaged. Broken chunks of concrete and splintered sticks of wood littered hard-hit coastal areas, turning beach getaways popular with Jakarta residents into near ghost towns. Vehicles tossed by the waves remained belly up in the rubble or were lodged in the air under collapsed roofs. Debris from thatch-bamboo shacks was strewn along beaches.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and home to 260 million people, lies along the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.