Indonesia Tsunami: Death Toll Nears 300

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Jakarta: The spokesman for Indonesia’s natural disaster agency has said the country must develop a new tsunami early warning system, as the death toll from Saturday’s tragedy rose to more than 280.

Hundreds of military personnel and volunteers spent Monday scouring debris-strewn beaches in search of survivors as experts warned of more tsunamis following the volcanic eruption that caused the deadly wave in western Java.

On Monday morning, the nation’s disaster agency said 281 people had died and at least 1,016 people were injured. More than 600 homes were damaged, as well as 60 shops and 420 vessels.

The tsunami was believed to have been caused by the eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano, which partially collapsed, creating an underwater landslide. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the head spokesman for the agency, said Indonesia had no early warning system for landslides or volcanic eruptions.

“The current early warning system is for earthquake activity,” he wrote on Twitter. “Indonesia must build an early warning system for tsunamis that are generated by underwater landslides & volcanic eruptions…[Landslides] triggered the 1992 Maumere tsunami and the Palu 2018 tsunami.”

He also said Indonesia’s tsunami buoy network had “not been operational since 2012”. “Vandalism, a limited budget, and technical damage mean there were no tsunami buoys at this time. They need to be rebuilt to strengthen the Indonesian tsunami early warning system.”

University of Queensland volcanologist Teresa Ubide said Anak Krakatau had been erupting for the past few months, which was not unusual.