No siren, no warning: Indonesians caught unawares by devastating tsunami

JAKARTA/PALU, Indonesia (Reuters) - When up to six-meter (20-foot) tsunami waves crashed into the Indonesian city of Palu last month, Didiek Wahyudi Kurniawan’s house near the beach was quickly engulfed with water, leaving his wife and two daughters barely any time to escape.

An aerial view of the destruction caused by an earthquake and liquefaction in the Petabo neighbourhood in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

“I know there is supposed to be a tsunami warning alarm, but maybe it was outdated? I have no idea. We never get any warning from it,” said Kurniawan, 46.

He said he was out at the time but his family escaped by wading through chest-high water to a neighbor’s three-storey building.

While his family was spared, scores attending a beach festival in Palu were among those swept away, adding to the more than 1,600 deaths from the 7.5 magnitude quake and tsunami that have been confirmed so far.

Other survivors also said they heard no sirens, even though a tsunami warning was issued and then lifted 34 minutes after the quake, based on data available from the closest tidal sensor, around 200 km (125 miles) from Palu, which is on Sulawesi island.

As Indonesia struggles with the aftermath of the devastating quake, the spotlight has again been shone on the apparent lack of preparedness in a sprawling archipelago that suffers regular tremors, lying on the seismically active so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

There was a major....

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