Disaster agency predicts at least 2,500 natural disasters will hit Indonesia in 2019

Scenes in a Lombok village following last year’s devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Photo: Coconuts Bali
Scenes in a Lombok village following last year’s devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Photo: Coconuts Bali

As the country recovers from the trio of deadly natural disasters that hit in 2018, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has announced that Indonesia is likely to encounter more of the same in 2019.

At a recent press conference, BNPB officials said they predict that the archipelago will be hit by at least 2,500 natural disasters of varying types and severities this year.

“The most dominant will be hydro-meteorological disasters, namely floods, landslides and tornadoes,” BNPB Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday, as quoted by Merdeka, noting that Indonesia is especially prone to those disasters due to deforestation and environmental damage.

As Indonesia sits on the volatile, seismically active belt known as the “Ring of Fire,” earthquakes are also expected to be common in 2019, just like in previous years. And, should high-magnitude quakes hit deep in the ocean, Indonesia may continue to be struck by tsunamis.

Following the devastating Sunda Strait tsunami of 2018, much has been made about Indonesia’s lack of a functioning tsunami warning system, but the BNPB says the country has become more prepared to detect tsunamis before they can devastate coastal areas thanks, in part, to the installation of new quake sensors.

As for the threat of volcanic eruptions, the BNPB said that, out of Indonesia’s 127 volcanoes, only a handful are considered at risk of dangerous activity. Only one volcano — North Sumatra’s Sinabung — is at the highest alert level while several others, including Anak Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait and Bali’s Mount Agung, are also at relatively high alert levels.

Thousands died in three major natural disasters — as well as in hundreds of minor ones — in Indonesia last year. In August, multiple earthquakes rocked Lombok before an earthquake-tsunami devastated Central Sulawesi in late September. In late December, a volcano-triggered tsunami in the Sunda Strait killed hundreds in coastal towns in Lampung and Banten provinces.

Here’s to keeping safe from natural disasters in 2019 wherever you are in Indonesia.

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