A GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF THE ERUPTION
Another effect, of a distressing character, followed the eruption. A succession of enormous waves, emanating from Krakatoa, traversed the sea, and swept the coast bordering the Straits of Sunda with such force as to destroy many villages on the low-lying shores in Java, Sumatra and other islands. Some buildings at a height of fifty feet above sea-level were washed away, and in some places the water rose higher, in one place reaching the height of 115 feet. At Telok Betong, in Sumatra, a ship was carried inland a distance of nearly two miles, and left stranded at a height of thirty feet above the sea.
The eruption of Krakatoa seems to have been due to some deep-lying causes of extraordinary violence, this appearing not only in the terrible explosion which tore the island to fragments and sent its remnants as floating dust many miles high into the air, but also from an internal convulsion that affected many of the volcanoes of Java, which almost simultaneously broke into violent eruption. We extract from Dr. Robert Bonney’s “Our Earth and its Story” a description of these closely-related events.
“The disturbances originated on the island of Krakatoa, with eruptions of red hot stones and ashes, and by noon next day Semeru, the largest of the Javanese volcanoes, was reported to be belching forth flames at an alarming rate. The eruption soon spread to Gunung Guntur and other mountains, until more than a third of the forty-five craters of Java were either in activity or seriously threatening it.
“Just before dusk a great cloud hung over Gunung Guntur, and the crater of the volcano began to emit enormous streams of white sulphurous mud and lava, which were rapidly succeeded by explosions, followed by tremendous showers of cinders and enormous fragments of rock, which were hurled high into the air and scattered in all directions, carrying death and destruction with them. The overhanging clouds were, moreover, so charged with electricity that water-spouts added to the horror of the scene. The eruption continued all Saturday night, and next day a dense cloud, shot with lurid red, gathered over the Kedang range, intimating that an eruption had broken out there.
“This proved to be the case, for soon after streams of lava poured down the mountain sides into the valleys, sweeping everything before them. About two o’clock on Monday morning—we are drawing on the account of an eye-witness—the great cloud suddenly broke into small sections and vanished. When light came it was seen that an enormous tract of land, extending from Point Capucin on the south, and Negery Passoerang on the north and west, to the lowest point, covering about fifty square miles, had been temporarily submerged by the ‘tidal wave.’ Here were situated the villages of Negery and Negery Babawang. Few of the inhabitants of these places escaped death. This section of the island was less densely populated than the other portions, and the loss of life was comparatively small, although it must have aggregated several thousands. The waters of Welcome Bay in the Sunda Straits, Pepper Bay on the east, and the Indian Ocean on the south, had rushed in and formed a sea of turbulent waves.