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By Kalhan Rosenblatt
A tsunami that devastated the area around the Indonesian Sunda Strait and left at least 222 dead and hundreds more injured, who met quickly and without warning on Saturday were.
While most tsunamis have seismic precursors that allow for some form of warning, an unfortunate chain of factors led to disaster on Saturday, experts say.
The tsunami, which took place between the islands of Java and Sumatra, was caused by the Anak Krakatau, an active volcano erupting since June.
There are two theories about the cause of the eruption: Either an underwater landslide or an ejection of molten lava caused the displacement. Experts say it's more likely that the wave was triggered by a landslide.
"This was not an ordinary tsunami," said Costas Synolakis, director of the Tsunami Research Center at the University of Southern California. "This was a volcanic tsunami … it did not rise so high as to trigger an alarm, so the tsunami warning centers were essentially useless."
Because of the proximity of Anak Krakatau to the tsunami on Saturday According to Synolakis, probably 20 to 30 minutes after a kind of volcanic activity.
"A volcano is a living thing, something that is not in a stable state at any geological time," said Emile Okal, Professor of Earth Sciences at Northwestern University, who has been studying tsunamis for 35 years. "Eventually there will be a landslide, and when it's underwater, we'll displace water and make a wave."
Okal said that in order to properly recognize the tsunami, Indonesia would need to spend about $ 1 billion on technology and around-the-clock labor along the coast – and even then not a guarantee that a warning will be delivered in time would come.
But the fact that the tsunami was caused by a volcano, not an earthquake, was not the only reason he was so deadly.
"It's bad this happened during the night, apparently to insult the injury, it happened during the flood, and if everything is the same, the danger increases," Okal said.
When the tsunami hit, the concertgoers were watched by the Indonesian pop band Seventeen were under a tent on a popu lar beach.
The band issued a statement stating that their bassist and street manager had been found dead while three other band members and the wife of one of the performers were missing.
"It's not a good idea to rock a concert on the beach near an erupting volcano," Okal said. "This is a remark that is easy to do by fact, but still something that comes from common sense."
This is not the first time that Anak Krakatau has harmed Indonesia, says Synolakis. In 1883, the volcano devastated the same region in a time of volcanic activity.
"It is not expected that an outbreak will occur that could cause an avalanche in the same way that was triggered 175 years ago," he said.
Gegar Prasetya, co-founder of the Tsunami Research Center Indonesia, said despite the devastation, this is far from being one of the largest in Indonesia. In September, more than 2,500 people were killed by an earthquake and tsunami that hit the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi, east of Borneo.
"Actually, the tsunami was not really big, just a meter tall," said Prasetya, who studied Anak Krakatau closely. "The problem is that people always build everything near the coast."
Synolakis said it was unrealistic to expect everyone to leave the shores, but added that those in high risk areas should be aware of the serious potential for a land disaster – a point Okal repeated.
"If you're on the beach – where you should be, enjoy the beach – but if you see anything unusual, shaky, or odd behavior, just run away," Okal said. Kalah Rosenblatt