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Why Indonesian earthquake was so deadly?

  • Published
    24th Nov, 2022
Context

A recently hit Earthquake of Magnitude 5.6 in the West Java province of Indonesia has led to massive devastation in the island country.

So, let us find out the reasons contributing to the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

About
The Location:
  • Population: 270 million people live in the island country.
  • Area: The area spans some 40,000 kilometers.
  • Occurrence of Natural Disasters: The Island is prone to frequent earthquakes, Tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Many of Indonesia’s earthquakes are minor and cause little to no damage. But there have also been deadly earthquakes.
About the West Java Province:


  • West Java is a province of Indonesia on the western part of the island of Java, with its provincial capital in Bandung.
  • West Java is bordered by the country's capital region of Jakarta to the west, the Java Sea to the north, the province of Central Java to the east, and the Indian Ocean to the south. 
  • West Java was one of the first eight provinces of Indonesia.
  • Jakarta is congested, prone to earthquakes, and rapidly sinking into the Java Sea.
  • The tectonics and seismicity of Jakarta and adjacent areas are highly influenced by the convergence of the Australian Plate toward the Eurasian Plate.
Occurrence of Earthquakes:
  • An earthquake is the shaking of the earth. It is a natural event.
  • It is caused due to release of energy, which generates waves that travel in all directions.
  • The vibrations called seismic waves are generated from earthquakes that travel through the Earth and are recorded on instruments called
  • The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicenter.

Types of earthquakes:

  • Tectonic earthquakes
  • Volcanic earthquakes
  • Human-induced earthquakes
Factors Responsible for Earthquakes in the region:
Geographic Factors:
  • Located on the Ring of fire: because of its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin known as the ‘Ring of Fire, it becomes one of the places where a majority of the world’s earthquakes occur.

  • Movement of Fault lines: A fault is a place with a long break in the rock that forms the surface of the earth. When an earthquake occurs on one of these faults, the rock on one side of the fault slips with respect to the other.
    • A number of rocks placed inside the island form fault lines, they are continuously moving with respect to normal rocks. Hence, they can slide over each other easily and are not stiff.
  • Type of Soil: The Indonesian island is made of basically volcanic soil made up of ashes which is similar to black soil in India. This soil easily gets settled down and is easy to swell and shrink.
    • The Structure holding capacity of the soil is also poor.
  • Other Factors include;
    • Proximity to the surface. the origin of the earthquake.
    • Distance from Volcano
    • The population of the region
Economic Factors:
  • A Less developed Country: The Island’s economy largely depends upon fishing activities and marine products. Therefore, there is a lack of proper infrastructure in the region due to a shortage of funds.
  • Lack of Earthquake Mitigation Methods: The absence of an adequate team and strategy to mitigate the effects of earthquakes makes the region prone to further suffering of common people.
Social Factors:
  • Lack of awareness among people.
  • Illiteracy prevalent among women makes them not aware of earthquake safety structures
Recent Earthquakes:
  • In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province.
  • In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.
  • A recent earthquake occurred in West Java province near the capital city of Jakarta.
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