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As Indonesia volcano rumbles, survivors fear more ruinous waves | News

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Steady loud booms rupture the looping noise of the waves lapping the coast of Pandeglang province on Indonesia’s Java island. The thumping sound could easily be mistaken for the wind – but it’s not.

Hidden in the gloom some 47km out in the sea, Anak Krakatoa volcano is still erupting, like it has been doing for several months now.

But late on Saturday, the eruptions triggered an underwater landslide that is widely believed to have caused a devastating tsunami that struck almost without a warning the shorelines of Indonesia’s Java and Sumatra islands

“It was not like a usual wave,” Edi Sujarwo, a chef at a hotel lining the Pandeglang seafront, told Al Jazeera. “It was a huge wave, with foam on top and it was just rolling and rolling after me.”

The powerful tsunami washed away popular seaside areas frequented by local and foreign tourists ahead of Christmas, sweeping over coastal settlements and leaving behind a trail of destruction.The latest death toll stands at 429 people, with 1,459 others injured and another 128 missing.

Thousands more have been displaced and forced to seek shelter in temporary camps after the menacing waves flattened their homes.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ami Yati told Al Jazeera.

Her house in Pandeglang is above four metres above normal sea level, yet the surging water powered into it as well as her shop next door.

“I’ve got no money; the shop’s gone too so I’ve got no income.”





A soldier searches for the tsunami victims in Sumur [Achmad Ibrahim/The Associated Press]

Fears of second tsunami

With Anak Krakatoa still rumbling, experts are warning that more destructive waves could slam the already-stricken areas in southern Sumatra and western Java – and with as little warning as Saturday’s disaster.

“People are nervous along this coast, watching the sea for signs that another wave could come,” said Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Pandeglang.

“Not knowing which rumble means they should run.”

Across the coast, in South Lampung on Sumatra, the same feeling prevails. 

“We’re scared that another tsunami could hit our village of any time, but we grew up here and our ancestors always told us that Krakatoa was a threat on the horizon,” Abdulrahman, the head of Rajabasa village who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told Al Jazeera.

“We’re scared, but this is our home.”

On both islands, search and rescue teams are using heavy machinery, diggers and even their bare hands to comb the ruins of hundreds of houses, hotels and other buildings.

At a small resort on Java’s Carita Beach, rescuers on Monday recovered some 40 bodies during the recovery and cleanup operations.

“They are still working in the rubble, where there is still a smell of death – they know that there are still at least one or two bodies to be recovered here,” Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the scene, said on Tuesday, adding that the efforts are being hampered by bad weather.






WATCH: Indonesians call for better response to tsunami disaster (02:11)

New monitoring equipment

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands with a population of some 260 million people, sits on the geologically active “Ring of Fire” and is frequently hit by earthquakes and tsunamis.

For many in the most recent disaster zones, grief is turning to anger as they question whether more could have been done to alert them to what was coming and urge authorities to invest in better monitoring equipment.

“I want the government to help us so we can continue to live here, so we are not afraid any more,” said Hasbialoh Asnawi, a resident in Anyer district on Java island.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who on Monday visited affected areas, pledged to have all tsunami-detection gear fixed or repaired.

In a post on Twitter, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for Indonesia Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), acknowledged that Indonesia’s network of detection buoys had been out of order for the past six years due to vandalism and budget shortages.

But other officials and experts have said the tsunami was caused by Anak Krakatau, which means that the BNPB’s sensors could not have been picked up the volcanic activity as they can monitor the conventional tremors that are responsible for the vast majority of Indonesia’s tsunamis.

“It’s highly likely that there will be more tsunamis generated by submarine landslides. The question is, when’s that going to happen? We don’t know,” James Goff, professor of tsunami research at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told Al Jazeera.

“Are there going to be bigger ones? We don’t know. What warning do you have? Well, it’s an active volcano – and that’s essentially the warning.”

Major disasters

Saturday’s tsunami was Indonesia’s third major natural disaster in just a few months. In July and August, major earthquakes on Lombok island killed hundreds of people, while in September a devastating earthquake-tsunami left more than 2,000 others in Palu on Sulawesi island dead.

It also came just a few days before the 14th anniversary of the December 26, 2004 tsunami, one of the deadliest disasters in history that claimed the lives of some 220,000 people in several countries around the Indian Ocean, more than half of whom were Indonesians.

As cleanup and recovery efforts following the latest disaster continue, the fears of people living on the coasts of Java and Sumatra – in such close proximity to the rumbling Anuk Krakatoa – will linger.

“A number of the people who lived here at sea level are now in temporary shelters on higher ground,” said Al Jazeera’s McBride.

“Whether they come back here, will depend in part in what confidence they have in being able to predict what the sea does next.”

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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