JAKARTA - At least seven people have died and 85 injured in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province following a 6.1-magnitude earthquake on Friday (Feb 25) morning.
Over 400 houses and buildings, including a school, halls and a mosque, in two of the hardest-hit regencies, West Pasaman and Pasaman, were damaged, according to National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).
More than 5,000 residents sought refuge in temporary shelters at 35 locations across the disaster areas.
A BNPB quick response team had been sent to both regions to assess the latest situation and identify needs of those affected, said agency chief Suharyanto in a media briefing in Jakarta.
“We’ll also set up command posts soon to coordinate efforts to mitigate the impact of the disaster,” he said, adding that basic services would be provided for the affected residents, he added.
The quake struck near the western coast of Sumatra, about 17km northeast of West Pasaman at a depth of 10km, according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).
No tsunami warning was issued, but the quake was felt in neighbouring provinces of Riau and North Sumatra, and as far away as Singapore and Malaysia.
Describing the event as a “shallow crustal earthquake”, BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawati, during the same media briefing, advised people to remain on alert in the wake of aftershocks. She urged people to stay away from slopes and cliffs as aftershocks may cause landslides and rock falls, especially during rain.
Mudflows appeared in a few locations in Bonjol district in Pasaman following the quake, while a landslide occurred in Tigo Nagari district in the same regency, local media reported.
The earthquake occurred at 8.39am Indonesia Western Time (9.39 am Singapore time). It was preceded by a magnitude 5.2 foreshock, and followed by 15 aftershocks of various magnitudes until 10.06am, said Dr Dwikorita.
Pasaman resident Irpanda, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, felt the first and second tremors.
“At first, the quake only lasted a few seconds. People fled their houses and buildings nearby were swaying,” he was quoted as saying on Metro TV. “But another quake happened and it was so strong. More people fled their homes.”
Patients in some local hospitals and health community centres in the affected regions also fled the facilities in panic, local media reported.
In Malaysia, the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) issued an alert on the temblor on Twitter at 10.12am.
It said tremors could be felt in Selangor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor.
Malaysian student Zhen Li, 17, was having online classes at home in a Kuala Lumpur suburb when she felt the tremors. “I was in the middle of Math class and I felt the chair move,” she told The Straits Times.
Tremors were felt in multiple locations in Singapore as well, including Bedok, Hougang, Lavender, Punggol and Sengkang, as well as the Central Business District.
Madam Lynn Chua, 44, was having her breakfast in her Hougang flat on the 10th floor when she felt her dining table start shaking at around 9.45am. She felt giddy and quickly grabbed the sides of her table. Madam Chua, a housewife, told The Straits Times:
“I felt two rounds of tremors which both lasted for about five seconds. This all happened within a minute. “My husband, who also felt the tremors, later checked and told me that an earthquake had occurred.”
Project manager Wendy Koh, in her 40s and lives in Lavender, also felt the tremors. She was in the midst of a video call with her colleagues when she felt them which she said lasted about a minute or two.
"I thought it might have been my new washing machine as it’s quite powerful but I only realised what was happening when everyone else on the call said they had also felt the tremors,” she said.
Bedok resident Sharl said she felt the tremors around 9.45am on Friday morning in her 13th-floor home. The 26-year-old social programme executive, who declined to give her full name, told ST: “It felt like the building was shaking, the monitors on my table were moving, too. It made me feel a little dizzy and I think this is probably one the worst tremors I’ve felt so far, since I usually can feel tremors whenever there is an earthquake in the region.”
People also took to social media to report the tremors they felt.
The police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said they received several calls from the public reporting the tremors. There were no reported injuries, the SCDF added.
Members of the public who are indoors and feel any tremors are advised to take cover under a table and to keep away from items made of glass or any hanging objects, the police said on Facebook. They are also advised people not to use the lift, or any naked light, in case of a gas leak.
For those who are outdoors, they are advised to keep away from buildings and overhead electric cables, the police said.
Sitting in the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide, Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities, including earthquakes which are sometimes followed by tsunamis.
Last month, a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit Java island with tremors felt in Jakarta, causing people to flee from buildings. A 7.4-magnitude quake in Flores Sea in December prompted a tsunami warning, but caused only mild damage.
The quake was also felt in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) issued an alert on the temblor on Twitter at 10.12am, The Star newspaper reported.
"Tremors from the quake could be felt in the western part of Peninsular Malaysia, especially Selangor, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor," MetMalaysia said.
Student Zhen Li, 17, was having online classes at home in a Kuala Lumpur suburb when she felt the tremors. "I was in the middle of Math class and I felt the chair move," she told The Straits Times.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, causing it to experience frequent earthquakes.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake struck the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.
- Additional reporting by Wallace Woon in Singapore and Hazlin Hassan in Kuala Lumpur