The first well-documented earthquake and tsunami event in Indonesia happened on the Island of Ambon and Seram. This earthquake and tsunami happened on 17 February 1674, which caused approximately 2500 fatalities and was documented by a botanist living on the island, Georg Everhard Rumphius (1627-1702). In addition to this, a number of tsunami experts have also researched and recorded tsunamis that happened in the Islands of Moluccas.
One of the more intriguing earthquakes and tsunamis happened on Sunday afternoon, 8 October 1950. At that time they called the earthquake as “Tanah Goyang” (shaking ground) and “Air Turun Naik” (receding and rising water)” as what we know now as a tsunami. This happened in three villages in the Island of Ambon namely, Negeri Hutumuri, Hative Kecil, dan Galala. However, information about this event is very limited, with one of the reasons being at that time the geopolitical situation in the Island of Ambon still unstable and consisting of fighting between the Tentara Nasional Indonesia – TNI (Indonesian Army) and the Tentara Republik Maluku Selatan – RMS (Army of the Independent South Moluccas).
To have a more complete portrayal of the tsunami event, 28 eyewitnesses of this event have shared their stories which have been documented in videos and available through this website. Based on the eyewitness stories and modeling of the tsunami event, the researcher tried to describe what (possibly) happened on the 8 October 1950.
The 1950 Tsunami Ambon website and the booklet of “Air Turun Naik di Tiga Negeri” (Tsunami in Three Villages) remind all of us about what happened and add information to the historical tsunami information in Indonesia. This information is to increase the awareness and to encourage the people of the City of Ambon to build their preparedness in case of similar events happening again in the future.
About the Project
The Indian Ocean Tsunami Information Centre (IOTIC) worked with Dr. Hamzah Latief (The Institute of Technology Bandung) and the Disaster Management Office of the City of Ambon in developing this tsunami awareness and education materials. The research and study were supported by the Government of Indonesia through the Indonesian Funds in Trust under the project: “Building Model for Disaster Resilient City in Indonesia: Tsunami Hazard”.