Oct 15, 2018
The tsunami that hit the Indonesian city of Palu on September 28 killed at least 2,000 people, with more than 600 still missing. 2,500 people were severely wounded. More than 80,000 were made homeless and are now living in refugee camps.
This city is in a region regularly hit by tsunamis caused by earthquakes under the ocean. In fact, Indonesia was hit by a gigantic, deadly tsunami in 2004. After that disaster, the country installed an early warning system. But it was not maintained and went defunct in 2012, according to Indonesia’s own Disaster Management Agency.
The situation was made much worse by the development of capitalism and colonialism in the country. The coastal city of Palu was first built by Dutch colonists to make it easier to take resources out of the country. And in recent decades, millions more Indonesians have moved from villages inland to coastal cities like Palu looking for work. These cities, and especially their slums, are especially vulnerable to the inevitable earthquakes and tsunamis.
Development in poor countries like Indonesia could be organized to minimize the risk from disasters like this. But instead, it’s organized to maximize profits, mostly for the international companies that loot Indonesia’s natural resources and the wealth produced by its people’s labor. Their attitude? “Safety of the population be damned!”