JAKARTA (REUTERS/AFP) – A powerful magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the island of Java in Indonesia just before midnight on Friday (Dec 15), with the authorities reporting three deaths and damage to hundreds of buildings.
The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake was located at a depth of 92 km, about 52 km south-west of Tasikmalaya.
Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency's (BNPB) said the quake activated early tsunami warning systems in the south of Java, prompting thousands to evacuate from some coastal areas, but no tsunami was detected.
Tremors were felt in central and west Java.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the disaster agency, said in a press briefing on Saturday that three people had been killed, seven injured, and hundreds of buildings damaged, including schools, hospitals, and government buildings, in West and Central Java.
A 62-year-old man in Ciamis and an 80-year-old woman in Pekalongan city were killed when the buildings they were in collapsed, Sutopo said, adding that a 34-year-old woman from the city of Yogyakarta died when she fell while running out of her house.
Dozens of patients had to be helped to safety from a hospital in Banyumas and were given shelter in tents, he said.
He posted on his Twitter page photos of people scouring collapsed buildings.
The quake also swayed buildings for several seconds in the capital Jakarta, about 300km from the epicentre. Some residents of high rise apartment buildings in central Jakarta quickly escaped their apartments, local media reported.
Jakarta resident Web Warouw was on the 18th floor of a building in the capital when the quake struck.
“Suddenly, we felt dizzy, but constantly... We then realised it was a quake and immediately ran downstairs,” the 50-year-old told AFP.
People in the coastal city of Cilacap evacuated as a precaution fearing a tsunami, although no alert had been issued for the area.
Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.
Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency said a magnitude 5.7 quake early on Saturday also struck south of West Java. It said the quake did not have tsunami potential.
Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island, is home to more than half of its 250 million people.