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Why a tsunami struck Indonesia without warning



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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."

Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter for NBC News in New York.

The Associated Press contributed.


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