This week in 1883, Krakatoa, a volcano located on an uninhabited island between Sumatra and Java, violently erupted. Volcanic dust spewed into the atmosphere. Huge tsunami waves swept through the area. About 36,000 people were killed.

The Krakatoa explosion made headlines around the world.

From the San Diego Union, Wednesday, August 29, 1883:

Destructive volcanic eruptions.

BATAVIA, August 27. — Terrible explosions were heard yesterday from the volcanic island of Krakton, and were audible at Saera Kata, on the island of Java. Stones rained down on Sering, which was in total darkness all night. communication with Anjier is interrupted and it is feared that at the calamity several bridges were destroyed. A village is swept away and the river overflows.

From the San Diego Union, Thursday, September 6, 1883:


Official reports received by the Dutch government.

NEW YORK, September 2, — A special telegram to the London Sun says: The Hague government has received reports from Java which show that the disaster at Ischia was insignificant compared to that which occurred at Bantam last Sunday . Without any warning, there was a tremendous burst of underground thunder, and the volcano of Krakatoa spewed out an inky black cloud that spread across the clear tropical sky with inconceivable rapidity, sweeping the land into complete darkness. Then it began to rain slag and dust, and in a few minutes most of northern Bantam, a very fertile and densely populated country, was completely destroyed.

A huge explosion followed, and rocks and volcanic material were hurled 200 to 300 miles away. The sides of the great volcano were blown into the sea, its structure collapsed, and the whole island of Krakatoa sank into the water and disappeared. On Monday morning, we could no longer see a vestige of it, the ocean having taken its place.

The volcanic activity in the area was intense, but the worst was thought to be over, when around noon the inhabitants of Merak and Tjeringen were alarmed by the sudden receding of the ocean from the shore, and looking out to sea they saw a great wall of water, varying in height from thirty to ninety feet, approaching the land. She destroyed everything in her path, submerging the whole coast, carrying away all the dwellings, the lighthouse and the government buildings within her reach and retired, laden with an immense freight of death and ruin. There is no estimate given in the fragmentary, panic-stricken dispatches, of the loss of life, but according to the best information it must be something appalling. The next day, sixteen active volcanoes rose out of the sea between the side of Krakotoa and Sibisie islands, and on Thursday, the great volcano of Soragapano erupted, collapsed, and resolved into five separate volcanoes. New maps will have to be prepared of the whole coast because its marine topography has been completely changed. Deep channels have become barren lands and towering volcanoes rise where the open sea used to be.