Tsunami hits again
A tsunami has once again hit the Java islands of Indonesia. Four-metre high waves, which crashed into the western and central-southern coast of the islands on July 17, were triggered by a series of mid-afternoon earthquakes centred deep beneath the Indian Ocean. The us Geological Survey measured the first and strongest quake at 7.7 on the Richter scale located 355 km south of Jakarta and 265 km south of Bandung. There have been 30 subsequent quakes in the same location, three of them measuring stronger than magnitude 6.0.
The deadly waves smashed beach resorts and fishing villages all along the shoreline, washed away about 2,600 fishing boats and swept farmers to death as they were working on their fields. According to reports last received, 547 people have died, 230 others are counted as missing and at least 45,000 people have fled their homes and are staying in camps. As rescuers continue to scour the rubble in coastal communities, the death toll is feared to rise further.
But the rising death toll has sparked doubts on the efficacy of the much-touted Indian Ocean tsunami-warning network. No warnings were given, said media reports. Though the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii and the Japan Meteorological Agency had issued warnings of the waves to the Indonesian government about an hour ahead of the actual hit, they could not be passed along to the public as the country is yet to have a system of sirens or alarms in place.
Indonesia was the worst hit by the 2004 tsunami and the recent disaster shows how unprepared the island nation remains in dealing with tsunamis. Currently, though a warning system is in place in Sumatra, Indonesian government admits that a country wide warning system will not be in place until 2009.