Indonesia is being wracked by a series of natural disasters. The Mount Mirapi volcano erupted Tuesday, shortly after a tsunami triggered by a powerful undersea earthquake Monday. The tsunami hit the Mentawai Islands south of Sumatra Island and swept villagers out to sea. In central Java, tens of thousands more fled the hot ash and flying rocks spewing from Mount Mirapi.
Indonesia tsunami sweeps villagers out to sea
Indonesia’s week from hell began with a 7.7 magnitude earthquake six miles under the sea floor off the coast of Sumatra. The New York Times reports that the Indonesia quake triggered a tsunami that hit the Mentawai Islands, located across a strait from the Sumatra mainland, late Monday. The 10-foot high tsunami reached up to 2,000 feet inland. Rescue workers and fishermen searched for survivors in the water. An Indonesian emergency official told the Times that 15 bodies had been found, as well as an unknown number of survivors.
Mount Mirapi clears its throat
The Mentawai Islands are in one of the most volatile earthquake zones in the world, according to seismologists. To the southeast, in south-central Java, Mount Mirapi, rising above the major city of Yogyakarta, is Indonesia’s most active volcano. The BBC reports that authorities watching the volcano set out the highest possible alert on Monday. A government vulcanologist told the BBC that about 6 p.m. three explosions sent rock and ash 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) into the air. Hot clouds of gas rolled down the volcano’s slopes.
Life and death on the Ring of Fire
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. The archipelago, with its population of 237 million people, lies directly on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a massive, interconnected circle of earthquake faults extending from the west coast of the Americas to Japan and Southeast Asia. Scientists are warning that the pressure building up beneath Mount Mirapi could portend one of the most powerful blasts in years. An avalanche of hot gas and rock in 2006 killed two people. In 1994 a similar incident killed 60. At least 1,300 people were killed in a 1930 eruption.