Indonesia has suffered three disasters in a week after an earthquake caused a tsunami killing 343 people on the remote Mentawai islands as well as a volcano eruption on the island of Java which killed at least 30 people.
The tsunami, which is thought to have affected 7,000 people, was caused after an under water earthquake of 7.7 magnitude. Nearly 400 are missing and many villages have been flattened beyond recognition.
The earthquake struck on Monday (October 25) along the same tectonic plate which caused the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which left over nearly 250, 000 people dead around the Indian Ocean.An early warning system that had been in place since 2004’s tsunami had stopped working due to lack of maintenance so local people received no warning. However, even if this had been working it is thought that the speed of the tsunami may have meant that people still would have had little chance to escape.
Some much needed supplies are starting to reach people but there have problems caused by poor weather conditions and choppy water making remote places hard to reach. This means that the scale of damage in some places is still unclear.
Tuesday (October 26) also saw the eruption of Mount Merapi (Fire Mountain) on the island of Java killing at least 30 people and leaving 17 hospitalised.
The dead included Mbah Maridjan, an elder seen to local people as the guardian of the mountain who refused attempts to evacuate him. He survived an eruption from the Mount in 2006 and in fact went even closer to the mountain in order to meditate.
According to the Indonesian Red Cross, more than 36, 000 people have been evacuated from their homes but there are fears for safety if there are further eruptions as some are starting to return to their homes to survey the damage. There are also concerns as the eruption this week relieved pressure behind a dome of lava but there are now concerns this could collapse leading to landslides.
With all this havoc, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono returned home early from a trip to Vietnam to deal with the rescue effort after the events…
Note: Experts say there is no connection between the volcano eruption and earthquake which caused the tsunami.