On August 27, 1883, the Indonesian island of Rakata almost vanished. In fact, about 75% of the land area of Rakata no longer exists. It was the most violent volcanic eruption recorded in world history that caused the destruction, and left more than 30,000 dead.
Krakatau (Krakatoa) volcano was located on the island of Rakata, 40 km off the west coast of Java. Since early historic ages, violent volcanic activity has been known to exist in the region. The "great eruption" of Krakatau must have taken place around 416 AD, as reported in ancient Javanese scriptures. The eruption formed three Islands (Rakata, Panjang, and Sertung), and caused a 7 km long caldera (cavity) to form underneath Rakata. When Krakatau erupted again in 1883, the island virtually collapsed into its cavity, 300 m below sea level. So violent was the eruption that volcanic ash and debris reached as far west as Madagascar. Tidal waves resulted in the destruction of more than 150 villages, and were felt in France and England. In Australia, hundreds of kilometers away from the site, the explosion was heard.
Since the disappearance of Krakatau, smaller eruptions have been observed. The ocean floor has been since gradually rising, eventually giving birth in 1927 to a new island, north of what remains of Rakata. Today, Anak Krakatau (Son of Krakatau) rises more than 150 m above sea level and is two km in diameter.
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