Local and foreign geologists had warned Indonesian authorities of the instability of the soil in the area of the island of Celebes affected by an earthquake and tsunami on September 28, according to several experts today.
The president of the Indonesian Association of Geology (IAGI), Sukmandaru Prihatmoko, said that the agency of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources produced in 2012 a map on the areas at risk of liquefaction of the soil of Palu, the main city in the area affected
"They published an official report and say they shared it with the government there, in theory the local government should know it but nobody cared," Sukmandaru told Efe by telephone.
Liquefaction, a phenomenon described as "waves of earth" by survivors, occurs when a strong earthquake strikes a sandy soil with water bags, which releases a large amount of mud that can drag and engulf buildings.
Last year seismologists Ian Watkinson and Robet Hall of the University of London Royal Halloway identified the Palu-Koro fault as the most dangerous in Celebes in an article and warned of the risk of tsunamis and liquefaction in Palu.
The article warned of "the possibility of liquefaction" in the basin on which the city is based and its vulnerability to "a tsunami that runs through the narrow bay of Palu" because it is a low area.
"Nobody expected that (the liquefaction) was so serious," Hall told Efe by telephone.
In the town of Petobo and the Balaroa neighborhood, both in Palu, the rescue teams were able to remove the bodies of a few hundred residents, despite authorities estimating that close to 5,000 people were buried.
These populations, like the nucleus of Jono Oge in the municipality of Sigi, which also suffered liquefaction on a smaller scale, will be converted into green areas and parks for memory as decided by the authorities that stopped the search work on October 12.
As for the tsunami warning mechanism, the sirens did not sound in Palu and the National Agency for Disaster Management acknowledged days after the disaster that part of the system has not been operational for 6 years.
The disaster caused the death of 2,103 people and 4,612 serious injuries, according to the latest official count.