Asia-Pacific

Three dead as strong earthquakes rock Bali, PNG

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A magnitude 6 earthquake struck off the Indonesian island of Bali ahead of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. A short time later, Papua New Guinea's New Britain island was also struck.

At least three people were killed as a shallow 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia's Java and Bali islands Thursday, a government official said.

The victims in East Java's Sumenep district perished after being crushed by collapsed buildings, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

"The earthquake happened early Thursday when they were sleeping and the quake suddenly rocked so they didn't have time to evacuate," he said, adding that damage caused by the tremor was not widespread.

The strong quake's epicentre was in the Bali Sea around 40 kilometres (25 miles) off the eastern end of Java island, according to the USGS, and was felt in Denpasar on the holiday island of Bali.

The USGS put the epicentre as 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Sumberanyar on nearby Java island.
The USGS put the epicentre as 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Sumberanyar on nearby Java island.
USGS

The strong quake was felt in Denpasar on the holiday island of Bali, where panicked people fled from buildings.

"Wow, that was really strong and it lasted a long time," said a woman named Davy who took refuge in the parking lot of a Bali hotel, several kilometres from where the IMF and World Bank are holding their annual meetings this week.

Some guests at the hotel in Nusa Dua, south of Bali's main international airport, briefly fled outside after the strong tremor shook the building.

"The quake was very big. I immediately woke up and took my little kids out of the house," Ni Komang Sudiani told AFP.

"All my neighbours were also running," said the mother of two.

The tremor's epicentre was in the Bali Sea around 40 kilometres (25 miles) off the eastern end of Java island, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The quake was also felt in Surabaya, the capital of East Java province, which is about 200 kilometres from Situbondo, the nearest town to the quake epicentre.

"I felt it for about 10 seconds. People were sleeping but got woken up by it," Tonny Akbar Mahendro told AFP.

No tsunami warning was issued for the earthquake.

"The quake didn't trigger any tsunami for sure," Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia's geophysics agency, told AFP.

The United States Geological Survey said the PNG quake hit about 125 kilometres (80 miles) east of Kimbe at a depth of around 40km.
The United States Geological Survey said the PNG quake hit about 125 kilometres (80 miles) east of Kimbe at a depth of around 40km.
USGS

Meanwhile, a major 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea's New Britain island on Thursday, briefly triggering a tsunami alert before authorities gave the all clear.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake hit about 125 kilometres (80 miles) east of Kimbe at a depth of around 40km.

There were a string of smaller tremors measuring up to 6.2 immediately before and after the main earthquake, which struck at 6:48am (2048 Wednesday GMT).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned hazardous tsunami waves were possible in coastal areas 300km from the epicentre.

It later revised its forecast saying: "Based on all available data the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed."

A spokesman for PNG's National Disaster Management Office in Port Moresby said there were no immediate reports of damage from the quake, but these typically took several hours to reach the capital after a major shake.

Chris McKee, assistant director at PNG's Geophysical Observatory in Port Moresby, said the quake was probably less intense than initial reports suggested.

"We believe the magnitude is high sixes, not 7.3 as some reports have suggested, and the depth is 50-70 kilometres (31-43 miles)," he told AFP.

"Within those parameters and at that depth, we wouldn't expect a tsunami to be generated."

McKee said attempts were being made to contact local agencies in New Britain to check whether the quake caused any damage.

The USGS website said there was a "low likelihood of casualties and damage" from the quake.

PNG sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

The country is still recovering after a 7.5-magnitude quake hit its mountainous interior in February, killing at least 125 people, cutting off access to villages and knocking out power.

Its remote terrain means it often takes several days for information about damage from quakes to reach officials and aid agencies.

The Bali tremor comes after a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi - around 1000 kilometres northeast of Situbondo - last month, killing more than 2000 people.

A string of earthquakes in Lombok in eastern Indonesia killed more than 550 people over the summer.

Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

 

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