A failed Tsunami warning system is being blamed for the hundreds of lives that were lost in Monday’s tragedy. A wall of water reported to be at least three meters high slammed into parts of Indonesia killing several hundred people. The tsunami was triggered by a 7.8-magnitute earthquake.
A tsunami warning system was put in place after the catastrophic 2004 tsunami at a cost of several million dollars. Unfortunately, the system broke down about a month ago due to poor maintenance. It is doubtful, however, if the early warning system could have done anything to help even if it was working. The worst damage occurred close to the epicenter, which meant that people would have had very little chance to respond or get to safety in those areas.
The Mentawai islands were hardest hit and it is here that the most number of deaths are being reported. Rescuers fear that the death toll could mount further as they keep discovering bloated corpses on beaches. They also fear that many bodies could have been swept out sea.
Currently the death toll has gone past 300, but rescue efforts are going on at a feverish pitch to help the survivors. Many countries have come forth with aid and this is a welcome relief for the disaster prone nation. Making the situation worse for Indonesia is the untimely eruption of Mount Merapi, one of the country’s most volatile volcanoes. Already, 28 people have died due to the eruption and almost one hundred people have been injured by ash and hot rocks. Over 10,000 people have evacuated from their homes and taken to emergency shelters.