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Krakatoa - Loss of the Fourth Point Lighthouse

On the morning of August 27, 1883 Krakatoa was nearing the end of its life as a single island. 

Jacob Schuit (keeper of the Fourth Point lighthouse, near Anjer, in Java - east of the volcano) refused to leave his post, doing the best he could to maintain the signal.  His friend, Roger Verbeek set out to warn the Schuits that conditions were worsening, but he could not reach them in time.

Perhaps sensing something really bad was about to happen, Josef Schuit's pet escapes the lighthouse.  While Catharine (his mother) looks for the family pet, the worst-possible situation descends on Fourth Point. 

In Krakatoa:  The Day the World Exploded, Simon Winchester describes the fate of the lighthouse:

Explosions like a battery of guns are heard across in Telok Betong.  Lightning strikes the lighthouse at Vlakke Hoek in southern Sumatra.  The lighthouse at Fourth Point, just to the south of Anjer, is hit by a vast wave and destroyed, ripped off at its base, leaving only an amputated stump of jagged masonry.  (Winchester, page 234.)

Mr. McColl, an agent working for Lloyd's of London, sent a telegram to his employer the week after Krakatoa's destructive eruptions and the tsunamis which resulted.  He talks about the Fourth Point lighthouse:

Anjer and lighthouse and the other lights of southwest Java have all been destroyed. The subsidences and upheavals we have alluded to caused a large wave about 100 feet in height to sweep down on the southwest coast of Java and south of Sumatra. This was swept in for a great distance, thereby doing great injury both to life and property.

We are here only twelve miles away from one of the points on which the wave spent its fury. The whole coastline to the southwest has changed its configuration.

The inhabitants of the island of Onrust were only saved from the flood which swept over the island by taking refuge on board two steamers. At Merak government establishment the inhabitants took refuge on a knoll, fifty feet high, but were all swept off and drowned, with the exception of one European and two Malays, who were saved.

Mauk and Kramat, on the west side of Batavia roads, have been laid waste, and about 300 lives lost. In Tjeringin only one house has been left standing. Both the native and European officials have perished...Anjer seems to have been completely destroyed.

In real life, it was the lighthouse keeper who survived and his wife, with their child, who died.  The gigantic wave was the same one which had destroyed Telok Betong and tested the courage of the Loudon's Captain, crew and passengers.  Simon Winchester, relying on eyewitness accounts, tells us more about the lighthouse family:


...the great granite lighthouse at what was called Java's Fourth Point, a little way to the south of Anger...survived the first onslaught...but when the wave that hit Telok Betong at 11:03 [on August 27, 1883] struck Anger - about fifteen minutes earlier, since Anjer is closer to the volcano - it picked up an immense piece of coral rock, weighing perhaps six hundred tons, and dashed it against the column. 

Despite its iron cage of reinforcing ribs, the light crashed down, extinguishing one of the most important navigation beacons of the entire Sunda Strait.  And although his wife and child were drowned, the keeper himself survived. 

With the phlegmatic way of both the well-trained lighthouse keeper and the fatalistic acceptance of a true Javanese, he returned to his duties as soon as was physically able, and had a temporary light erected, and lit, within a matter of hours.  (Simon Winchester, Krakatoa:  The Day the World Exploded, page 256.)

Lighthouses - even those made of stone - are like matchsticks in the face of a 100-foot wall of raging sea.

The events dramatized in this clip are from the BBC production, Krakatoa: The Last Days.

See, also:

Last Days of Krakatoa

Krakatoa - Ash Fall

Krakatoa - Loudest Sound in Recorded History


Krakatoa - Deadly Tsunami

Krakatoa - Fatal Pyroclastic Surge


Krakatoa - After the Disaster


Media Credits

Clip from the BBC production, Krakatoa: The Last Days.  Copyright, BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the program.  Online via BBC's Channel at YouTube.   

Written by:    

Colin Heber-Percy
Michael Olmert
Lyall B. Watson

Director:    
Sam Miller

Producers:

Alan Eyres
Greg Smith

Starring:   
 
Rupert Penry-Jones
Olivia Williams
Kevin McMonagle
 
Originally aired on BBC One - May 7, 2006

Quoted passages from Simon Winchester, Krakatoa:  The Day the World Exploded.

 

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"Krakatoa - Loss of the Fourth Point Lighthouse" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 21, 2017.
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