THE devastating tsunami that killed at least 832 people on Indonesian island could have been made worse by the unique shape of its coastline.
A giant wall of water raced up a funnel-shaped bay before crashing onto the city of Palu – causing utter destruction on Friday.
Rescue teams now face a race against time to free people trapped in the rubble of wrecked buildings and the authorities fear the death toll could reach the “thousands”.
The tsunami hit the island of Sulawesi following a 7.5 scale earthquake under the ocean.
Palu lies inside a narrow bay and experts believed the shape of the coast could have concentrated the impact of the wave.
Janine Krippner, a volcanologist at Concord University, told National Geographic: “That can amplify wave height as it channels water into a smaller area.”
The quake that caused the waves could have been caused when sections of the earth’s crust grinded together sending a huge wave racing across the ocean.
However, experts are sceptical whether this would cause such huge waves heading towards Palu.
Scientists believe landslides, above or below water, may have also contributed to the scale of the tsunami.
A tsunami can travel quicker that a jet liner – meaning communities along a coastline like Sulawesi’s can be wiped out before they can escape.
Indonesia frequently suffers earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its position on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
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Many countries make up the Ring of Fire but Indonesia is seen to be the most vulnerable to natural disasters.
In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Last month, a powerful quake on the island of Lombok killed 505 people.
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