Thousands awoke from a second night on mosque floors or under
makeshift shelters on Indonesia's Java island on Tuesday as
authorities grappled with the aftermath of a tsunami that killed at
least 463 people.
As efforts continued to find 235 people still missing, the media
questioned why there was no warning ahead of Monday's killer waves
despite regional efforts to set up early alert systems after the
massive Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.
The Jakarta Post said in an editorial that the
country's National Disaster Management Coordination Board had done
"nothing of note to increase people's preparedness for
"Preparedness also covers efforts to build effective early
warning systems based on sophisticated information and
communication technologies," the daily said.
Heavy equipment to search for bodies under the rubble was in
place on Wednesday along parts of the 160-km (100-mile) stretch of
south Java's coastline that was battered by waves after a
7.7-magnitude undersea earthquake.
Officals said there were four dead foreigners, including a Dutch
national, a Swede, a Japanese and a Belgian.
More than 54,000 people were displaced from wrecked fishing
villages and beach resorts, adding to the rehabilitation headache
for the authorities after an earthquake that killed more than 5,700
people in central Java less than two months earlier.
Aid trucks started to arrive for the thousands who lost their
homes or who, fearing further tsunamis, fled to hills above the
Many found refuge under plastic-sheeting shelters while
thousands camped out in mosques at the resort of Pangandaran and
nearby Cilacap port, which were among the hardest-hit spots.
Soft-drink and snack seller Mukasih, 25, said the tsunami
destroyed both her kiosk and her home.
"Suddenly the waves came in and knocked me over. I tried to swim
but I couldn't," she told Reuters.
Mukasih suffered cuts and lacerations as the waves flung her and
one of her children against a wall. She later found her husband and
other child sheltering in a mosque.
Asked what her plans were, she said: "I don't know. I'm still
thinking, but I don't want a shop on the beach again."
No tsunami warning system was set up for the southern coast of
Java after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left 230,000 killed
or missing, including 170,000 in Indonesia.
Some officials considered the area, which lies some 270 km (170
miles) southeast of Jakarta, less likely to be hit by a tsunami
than others in Indonesia.
"It turned out that our prediction was wrong," the Jakarta Post
quoted Surono, a senior official of the country's earthquake
agency, as saying. "Now, we believe that there are no tsunami-free
areas along the southern coast of Java."
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters the
government would build an early warning system in Java and other
areas in Indonesia in three years.
Indonesia's 17,000 islands sprawl along a belt of intense
volcanic and seismic activity, part of what is called the "Pacific
Ring of Fire".
(Chinadaily.com via agencies July 19, 2006)