Indonesia’s tsunami-warning system has been out of commission for six years, officials revealed in the wake of the series of giant waves that just killed at least 373 there — and as the country’s president ordered its disaster agency to finally purchase a new early system Monday.
Victims on Indonesia’s islands of Java and Sumatra were taken totally by surprise when the Anak Krakatau volcano eruptions caused an underwater landslide that sent the tsunami crashing into their coasts Saturday.
The nation of islands has a network of tsunami-detecting buoys — devices floating off the country’s coasts designed to submit warnings about big waves to its national disaster agency — but they have been broken since 2012, an agency spokesman said.
“Vandalism, lack of funds, technical faults have caused the current absence of the tsunami buoy system,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a series of tweets, according to Channel NewsAsia.
But experts say that even if the buoy system had been working, it probably wouldn’t have offered much warning because the volcano was so close to the islands’ coastline.