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Adstoppi Blog | Deadly Indonesian tsunami was not caused by an earthquake

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There was no earth-shaking warning before a wall of water rushed ashore under the cover of darkness in Indonesia on Saturday, killing more than 220 people, and injuring hundreds more. Unlike many large tsunamis, this one was not caused by an earthquake. Instead, experts think that a nearby volcanic eruption triggered an underwater landslide, which pushed the wall of water towards the shore.

The tsunami hit around 9:30 PM local time, when many residents and visitors were relaxing near the beach on the islands of Java and Sumatra, on either side of the Sunda Strait, a narrow body of water that links the Indian Ocean to the Java Sea. The most likely culprit for the destruction is a volcano in the middle of the strait, Anak Krakatau. Earlier in December, the active volcano sputtered, sending ash clouds high into the atmosphere, but on Saturday it offered no obvious warning of the danger that was to come roiling off its flanks, leaving hundreds of people directly in the tsunami’s destructive path.

“There was no tsunami warning,” Rahmat Triyono, earthquake and tsunami chief at Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency told The New York Times. “There was no earthquake.”

This is the second major tsunami that Indonesia has dealt with in the past few months. In late September, an earthquake triggered a huge tsunami that hit the Indonesian city of Palu, killing around 2,000 people.

An earthquake that occurs in the ocean and moves the Earth’s crust up or down dramatically can cause a tsunami, like the one that struck Palu. The shaking often alerts people and warning systems to be on the lookout for the movement of water towards or away from the coast. But in this more recent case, the Earth didn’t move enough to set those alarms in motion.

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