After killer quake-tsunami, volcano erupts in Indonesia, no casualties Images showed an eruption visible for miles around, with a cloud of ash climbing in a large vertical column with a mushroom-shaped top.
Indonesia's Mount Soputan volcano on the quake-and tsunami-hit island of Sulawesi erupted Wednesday, spewing volcanic ash 4,000 metres into the air. The state disaster agency warned people to stay at least four kilometres (two and a half miles) away but said there was no need to evacuate for the time being. Images showed an eruption visible for miles around, with a cloud of ash climbing in a large vertical column with a mushroom-shaped top. Soputan is around 1,000 kilometres from the town of Palu where a 7.5 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that lashed the coastline killing almost 1,400 people. Indonesia is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a vast zone of geological instability where the collision of tectonic plates causes frequent quakes and major volcanic activity. However, financing and supporting the early warning system in the long term is a considerable problem. The buoys alone cost around US$250,000 each to install and US$50,000 annually for maintenance. The three major Indonesian agencies for responsible for earthquake and tsunami disaster mitigation have suffered from budget cuts and internal struggles to define roles and responsibilities. Lastly, the Palu tsunami event has highlighted that our current tsunami models are insufficient. They do not properly consider multiple earthquake events, or the underwater landslides potentially caused by such quakes. No early warning system can prevent strong earthquakes. Tsunamis, and the resulting infrastructure damage and fatalities, will most certainly occur in the future. But with a well-developed and reliable early warning system, and better communication and public awareness, we can minimise the tragic consequences. With earthquakes that occur very close to the beach – often the case in Indonesia – even an ideal system could not disseminate the necessary information quickly enough. Indonesia’s geography and vulnerable coastal settlements makes tsunamis more dangerous, so we need more and concerted efforts to create earthquake and tsunami resilient communities. Business Standard