Java Earthquake Kills At Least Three People And Damages Buildings

A powerful earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java has killed at least three people and caused damage to hundreds of buildings.

People ran into the street in panic in many areas and Indonesian television showed heavy traffic on roads as people fled coastal areas. There were also reports that buildings had collapsed in the city of Tasikmalaya in West 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, a national disaster mitigation agency spokesman said. A 34-year-old woman from the city of Yogyakarta died when she fell while running out of her house.

Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island, is home to more than half of the country’s 250 million people.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the magnitude-6.5 quake was located at a depth of 57 miles (92km), about 32 miles south-west of Tasikmalaya.

Indonesia’s national disaster management agency said the quake activated tsunami early warning systems in the south of Java, prompting thousands to evacuate some coastal areas, but no tsunami was detected.

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 central and West Java.

Dozens of patients had to be helped to safety from a hospital in Banyumas and were given shelter in tents, he said.

Jakarta resident Web Warouw, 50, was on the 18th floor when the quake struck just before midnight local time (1700 GMT).

“Suddenly, we felt dizzy … We then realised it was a quake and immediately ran downstairs,” Warouw said.

The quake swayed buildings for several seconds in the capital. Some residents of high-rise apartment buildings left their properties.

About 170,000 lives were lost when a 9.1-magnitude quake and tsunami struck Aceh province in December 2004, which also hit coastal areas as far away as Somalia.

Another earthquake struck Aceh in December 2016, killing more than 100 people, injuring many others and leaving tens of thousands homeless.