Mezquita flotando en Indonesia tras el terremoto y posterior tsunami de 2018. Archivo EFE

Jakarta, Sep 28 (EFE).- The inhabitants of Palu, in the north of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, which was shaken by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that five years ago today caused more than 4,300 deaths, They commemorate the tragedy with collective prayers and the apparent improvement in alert and evacuation plans.

Ramadhan Bodah, spokesman for a religious group in Palu, has been organizing a call to pray for the victims of the catastrophe every anniversary for five years and today he hopes that at least half a thousand residents of the city, of about 300,000 inhabitants, will join, according to account to EFE.

Although he was able to save himself because at the time of the disaster he was on a hill, the man experienced first-hand the devastation caused by the earthquake and the wave of up to three meters that it caused, as well as the landslides that damaged the consistency of the terrain in a strange phenomenon called “liquefaction” of soil.

“We formed a volunteer rescue group and used everything that was available before the relief teams arrived. We immediately went to evacuate bodies,” he says.

According to data from the Sulawesi authorities, at least 4,340 people died during the natural disaster, of which only 2,657 could be identified.

The tragedy has left an indelible mark on the island, where the failure of the early warning systems, which were not activated, caused the tsunami to surprise at least a thousand people who were about to participate in a cultural festival in a beach in the region.

Terrified residents watched first as a tsunami swept away rubble, including a collapsed mosque in Palu, and then houses, as if the earth had turned to liquid.

This phenomenon, known as liquefaction, occurs when a strong earthquake hits a loose earthen floor with large pockets of water, causing it to collapse and releasing a large amount of mud that drags buildings and structures as if they were floating on a current. viscose.

The local Indonesian meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG) issued a tsunami warning after the earthquake, which occurred at dusk, but deactivated it 28 minutes later as it did not have reliable data on the situation, although the giant wave was already causing havoc. .

Bodah affirms that in these five years there have been improvements in the warning systems, without specifying which ones, and assures that the plans and spaces for evacuations have improved.

“During what happened in 2018, many people were confused about where to go and which way to go. Now there are instructions from the government on what to do if it happened again, what routes and where to go, like a stadium,” he says.

The disaster in Sulawesi was the worst to hit Indonesia since the 2004 tsunami that swept through the province of Aceh, in the west of the archipelago, where 167,000 people died.

After the ferocious tsunami that in 2004 caused some 280,000 deaths in nations bathed by the Indian Ocean, the Indonesian authorities placed 22 buoys with sensors to warn of seismic movements on its coasts thanks to donations, including 45 million euros from the German Government.

Indonesia, the country with the most Muslims in the world, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of ​​great seismic and volcanic activity in which about 7,000 earthquakes are recorded every year, most of them moderate.

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