- "The total number of people who died in the earthquake is 20," Agus Wibowo the national disaster mitigation spokesman said in statement.
- The magnitude 6.5 earthquake, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), whose epicenter was detected 37 kilometers northeast of Ambon in the Maluku province, occurred at 08:46 local time (23:46 GMT Wednesday).
- Oral Sem Wilar, the local head of disaster agency urged residents to relax and remain calm.
At least twenty people, amongst them an infant, have lost their lives in Indonesia after a powerful 6.5-magnitude earthquake rocked the rural Maluku archipelago in the east of the country on Thursday. Authorities said the earthquake destroyed homes and caused massive property damage.
The quake damaged many buildings, including a university, a bridge and a hospital, and caused a landslide, said the local disaster management agency. “The total number of people who died in the earthquake is 20,” Agus Wibowo, the national disaster mitigation spokesman, said in statement. “At least 100 people were injured and more than 2,000 evacuated.”
He added that ”among those killed was an infant.”
The magnitude 6.5 earthquake, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), whose epicenter was detected 37 kilometers northeast of Ambon in the Maluku province, occurred at 08:46 local time (23:46 GMT Wednesday). It was followed by dozens of aftershocks, triggering panic among residents who fled to raised areas.
“The impact was felt across Ambon city and surrounding areas,” said Rahmat Triyono, head of the earthquake and tsunami division at Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG). Following the calamity, images of Ambon, a city of some 400,000 inhabitants, showed parts of fallen walls. “I was asleep with my family when suddenly the house started to shake,” said an AFP reporter in Ambon. “The quake was really strong. We ran from our house and saw the neighbours fleeing too. Everybody was panicking,” he added.
Oral Sem Wilar, the local head of disaster agency urged residents to relax and remain calm. “People were panicking and started to evacuate in some places, but we are trying to tell them there’s no need to panic because there’s no tsunami threat,” he told AFP.
Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands and islets that was formed by the convergence of three large tectonic plates (Indo-Pacific, Australian and Eurasian), is on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of high seismic activity. The archipelago has more than 100 active volcanoes. Last year, towards the end of September, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake followed by a tsunami on the island of Celebes devastated the region of Palu and left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.
In 2004, a powerful magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, setting off the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, also called the Boxing day tsunami, on Dec. 26, 2004. It was on a Sunday morning. The quake ruptured a 900-mile stretch of fault line, the meeting point of the Australian and Indian tectonic plates. The quake caused a sudden rise of the ocean floor by as much as 40 meters and thus triggered a big tsunami which ended up claiming nearly 230,000 lives and historically made it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history.