Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA) - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) carried out a project to document the 1979 Waiteba tsunami in Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara, to encourage disaster awareness among people.

"The documentation of the tsunami (which occurred) 45 years ago is to remind the public, especially Lembata residents, about the great disaster and to encourage preparedness in the future," BMKG's meteorology and geophysics expert, Admiral Musa Julius, stated here on Wednesday.

Julius explained that the tsunami, which occurred on July 18, 1979, was peculiar, as it was caused by landslides from Mount Ile Werung. The tsunami swept over the southern coast of Lembata Island, claiming the lives of 500 residents.

He said documentation and archives about past tsunami disasters in Indonesia before the 2024 Indian Ocean tsunami in Aceh are scarce. Hence, the agency is resolute in documenting past tsunami incidents, including in Lembata Island.

Knowledge about the disaster will also remind residents that their area is prone to tsunamis, he added.

"Lembata is prone to tsunami because the Flores fault is on its north and the undersea Mount Hobal is on its south," Julius stated.

The project commenced with an on-site survey on March 5-8, 2024. The survey was conducted in the villages of Loang, Ile Kimok, Waiteba, Leworaja, and Atakore that had been affected by the 1979 tsunami.

The agency team visited the village heads and provided a questionnaire to profile living witnesses in their area. The team sought to record statements from witnesses who survived the disaster.

The BMKG team also dispatched a team to obtain visual data from the landslide location by drone camera.

After the on-site survey, the agency will gather witnesses' testimonials and other essential data to reconstruct the 1979 tsunami chronology. The reconstruction is expected to take place for several months.

"The next visit plan to document and interview the living witness will be done on July 18, coinciding with the tsunami anniversary," Julius stated.

He remarked that the output from the 1979 tsunami documentation project is expected in the form of books and videos.

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Translator: Fransiska MN, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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