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Indonesian tsunami toll highlights lack of early warning system

    PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2018, 5:03pm
    UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2018, 5:03pm

    I refer to the devastating tsunami that hit the coastal areas around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait on Saturday night, leaving at least 429 people dead and more than 150 still missing. Nearly 1,500 people were injured, and hotels and homes were left flattened. Thousands of people are still crammed into makeshift evacuation centres, with sickness raising fears of a public health crisis.

    A tragic video posted online showed the rock band Seventeen performing at a beach resort: the atmosphere was lively, with the audience crowded in front of the stage and swaying to the music. The next second, strong waves came from behind the stage, and the band members and instruments were swept into the audience, as people screamed and fled. Members of the band were among the dead.

    The tsunami was believed to have been two to five metres high in the areas on the western tip of Java. The disaster and its aftermath have left me deeply saddened, especially because an early warning system for tsunamis could perhaps have saved hundreds of lives.

    Another tsunami may be imminent, as experts fear Anak Krakatoa collapse

    As reported, this volcano-triggered tsunami did not give the authorities enough time to issue a warning. And the Indonesian disaster bureau actually released an incorrect warning, as the authorities failed to predict the killer impact of the giant wave triggered by the undersea landslide and did not promptly issue a tsunami evacuation alert.

    Richard Chan, Tiu Keng Leng