Operator alat berat membersihkan puing-puing rumah yang hancur akibat tsunami di Carita, Pandeglang, Banten, Kamis (27/12/2018). Pemerintah menyiapkan dana sebesar Rp1,98 triliun yang akan digunakan Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB) pada penanganan dampak tsunami Selat Sunda. ANTARA FOTO/Akbar Nugroho Gumay/aww.

Indonesia Orders Flights to Steer Clear of Erupting Anak Krakatau Volcano


DECEMBER 27, 2018

Labuan, Banten. The authorities raised the alert level for the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano to the second-highest on Thursday and ordered all flights to steer clear, days after it triggered a tsunami that killed at least 430 people.

A crater collapse on the volcanic island at high tide on Saturday sent waves up to 5 meters high smashing into the coast on the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra.

The National Geological Agency has warned that the crater of Anak Krakatau, or child of Krakatau, remains fragile, raising fears of another collapse and tsunami, and urged residents to stay away from the coast.

The volcano has been rumbling on and off since July but has been particularly active since Sunday, spewing lava and rocks, and sending huge clouds of ash up to 3,000 meters into heavily overcast skies.

The agency, in raising the alert level to the second-highest, set a 5-kilometer exclusion zone around the island.

"Since Dec. 23, activity has not stopped... We anticipate a further escalation," the agency's secretary, Antonius Ratdomopurbo, said.

A thin layer of volcanic ash has been settling on buildings, vehicles and vegetation along the west coast of Java since late on Wednesday, according to images shared by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (Basarnas).

Authorities said the ash was not dangerous but advised residents to wear masks and goggles when outside, while aircraft were ordered away.

"All flights are rerouted due to Krakatau volcano ash on red alert," the government air-traffic control agency AirNav said in a release.

The civil aviation authority said no airports would be affected. Jakarta is about 155 kilometers east of the volcano.

'No Preparations'

In 1883, the volcano then known as Krakatoa erupted in one of the biggest blasts in recorded history, killing more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunami and lowering the global surface temperature by 1 degree Celsius with its ash.

Anak Krakatau is the island that emerged from the area in 1927 and has been growing ever since.

Indonesia, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade this year.

The latest tsunami disaster, coming during the Christmas season, evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, which killed more than 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Tsunami warning systems were set up after 2004 but they have failed to prevent subsequent disasters, often because the apparatus has not been maintained properly, while public education and disaster preparation efforts have been patchy at best.

Ramdi Tualfredi, a teacher in Cigondong village in Banten, on the west coast of Java Island, said he had never got any instructions on safety steps and efforts to prepare communities for tsunami had "totally failed."

"There were no preparations. I didn’t get information from anywhere," he said, adding there had been little help for residents since disaster struck.

Nearly 22,000 people were displaced by the tsunami, while 1,495 were injured and 159 are missing.

Most of the displaced are staying in crowded shelters.

Aid is getting through and the government has declared a state of emergency until Jan. 4 to help with the distribution of assistance.