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Massive Waves Without Warning
A van sits atop rubble after Sulawesi earthquakes and a tsunami. Source: Devina Andiviaty/CC 3.0

On September 28, 2018, a series of strong earthquakes shook the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, triggering a surprise tsunami that killed hundreds of people and led to widespread devastation. Scientists now believe that a number of factors contributed to the unexpected 18-foot wall of water: unique movements in the area’s complex web of fault lines, landslides below the water, and the narrow structure of Palu City’s bay. A tsunami warning was issued at first but then retracted, explaining why so many were caught off guard by the massive waves.

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