One killed, several injured in strong quake off Indonesia's Java island

VIDEO: REUTERS
Employees being evacuated from their office building in Serpong, Banten province, Indonesia, following a strong earthquake in the area on Aug 2, 2019.
Employees being evacuated from their office building in Serpong, Banten province, Indonesia, following a strong earthquake in the area on Aug 2, 2019.PHOTO: AFP
Resident outside an apartment block after a strong earthquake hit the area around Jakarta on Aug 2, 2019.
Resident outside an apartment block after a strong earthquake hit the area around Jakarta on Aug 2, 2019.PHOTO: AFP
The quake had hit at a depth of 59km, about 227km from the city of Teluk Betung on the island of Sumatra.
The quake had hit at a depth of 59km, about 227km from the city of Teluk Betung on the island of Sumatra.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM EARTHQUAKE.USGS.GOV

JAKARTA - Indonesian authorities lifted a tsunami alert after a powerful earthquake struck off the southern coast of Indonesia’s Java island on Friday (Aug 2) night.

One person was killed in Lebak regency, Banten, while four people in Pandeglang regency, Banten and Sukabumi regency, West Java were injured, according to Indonesian disaster management agency BNPB.

As many as 113 buildings across Banten and West Java provinces were damaged.

The 6.9-magnitude quake struck offshore at a depth of 52.8km, some 150km from Labuan, south-west of the capital Jakarta, according to the United States Geological Survey. 

Indonesia’s disaster agency Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) earlier put the quake at a magnitude of 7.4, before revising it down to 6.9.

“Based on our monitoring devices, there was no indication of any significant change in the sea water surface,” BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawati said at a press conference broadcast live on television. 

The agency had earlier warned that the tsunami had the potential to generate waves of up to 3m in some areas.  

There were no immediate reports of any damaging waves hitting coastlines along southern Sumatra or western Java. 

President Joko Widodo said there had been no report of any major damage, but the authorities would continue to monitor the situation as it was too late and dark to assess the situation on the ground.  

“We are checking (the impact of the earthquake) and monitoring on the ground. As of now, there has been no report of any major damage. Hopefully, it will remain so," he told reporters at the presidential palace. 

“I have ordered the BNPB (Indonesian disaster management agency), TNI (armed forces), the police and social affairs minister to act swiftly if there is anything that needs to be dealt with," Mr Joko added. 

BNPB said around 1,000 evacuees were taking shelter outside the governor's office in Lampung province following the quake. It also said 10 houses in the regencies of Cianjur and West Bandung have so far been damaged.  

Residents in Jakarta fled their homes as buildings in the megacity swayed from the force of the quake.

“The chandelier in my apartment was shaking and I just ran from the 19th floor,” 50-year-old Elisa told AFP. “Everybody else ran too. It was a really strong jolt and I was very scared.”

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BNPB said in a statement that the quake was felt strongly at a number of locations such as Pandeglang and Lebak, South Lampung, Bengkulu, Sukabumi, Depok and Jakarta.

BMKG had earlier issued an emergency status for South Pandeglang and Panaitan Island in Pandeglang, and West Lampung. 

BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawati had appealed to residents living in coastal areas in Banten and Lampung provinces to evacuate to higher ground and stay there until at least 9.30pm local time (10:30pm Singapore time).

Officials waited until two hours after the earthquake occurred before lifting any tsunami warnings.

At least two people were killed and thousands were forced from their homes after a major 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit the remote Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia last month.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island killed more than 2,200 people, with another thousand declared missing.

On Dec 26, 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people across the Indian Ocean region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.

With reporting by Agence France-Presse