Philippines sends condolences after Krakatoa eruption causes tsunami

Krakatoa
A scene of chaos after the tsunami that was sparked by an eruption of Krakatoa Anak

The Philippines has expressed its condolences after an eruption of the volcano Anak Krakatoa sparked a deadly tsunami in Indonesia.

In a statement today (Sunday, December 23) presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo also said the Department of Foreign Affairs was monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Indonesia.

“We offer our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the people of Indonesia who were hit by a tsunami around the Sunda Strait yesterday night. We particularly condole with the families of those who perished in this tragedy,” he said.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through our Philippine embassy in Jakarta, continues to monitor the situation and remains in touch with the leaders of the Filipino community in Indonesia to oversee the condition of our citizens residing there and make sure all are safe and accounted for.”

Coastal communities were devastated by the wave, which hit beaches in South Sumatra and the western tip of Java at about 9.30pm yesterday. As of today, at least 168 people have been confirmed dead and more than 750 injured. Hundreds more remain missing.

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Authorities said the tsunami may have been triggered by an underwater landslide following an eruption of Anak Krakatoa, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait.

Officials are continuing to investigate exactly what triggered the tsunami.

Volcanologist Jess Phoenix told the BBC that when volcanoes erupt, hot magma pushes underground and can displace and break through colder rock. This can trigger a landslide.

However, because part of Krakatoa is underwater, she said “instead of just causing a landslide, you get an undersea landslide which pushes water as it moves”. This can then cause a tsunami.

Krakatoa

The Anak Krakatoa volcano has seen increased activity in recent months.

Indonesia’s geologic agency said that the volcano erupted for two minutes and 12 seconds on Friday, creating an ash cloud that rose 1,300ft above the mountain.

The agency said that high seas as a result of the full moon may also have contributed to the strength of the waves.

Krakatoa and the Ring of Fire

Like the Philippines, Indonesia is prone to tsunamis because it lies on the Ring of Fire — the line of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that encircles most of the Pacific Ocean.

As we reported in September, more than 2,000 people died when a powerful earthquake struck off the island of Sulawesi, setting off a tsunami that engulfed the coastal city of Palu.

In August 1883, Krakatoa underwent one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in recorded history:

  • Massive tsunamis with waves up to 135ft killed more than 30,000 people
  • Thousands more were killed by hot ash
  • The eruptions were equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT — about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945
  • The eruptions were heard thousands of kilometres away
  • World temperatures dropped by more than 1C the following year
  • The volcanic island virtually disappeared

In 1927, a new volcanic island, Anak Krakatoa (Child of Krakatoa) emerged from the sea.

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