At least three people have died in earthquakes that struck Indonesia and then Papua New Guinea’s neighbour in the space of two hours, with magnitudes respectively of 6 and 7.
The two countries lie on the Pacific ring of fire, a zone of strong seismic activity at the convergence of three large tectonic plates (the indo-pacific, australian and eurasian).
It is first off the indonesian islands of Java and Bali that the earth trembled and shook in the night. Thursday morning, a spokesman of the national agency of natural disasters, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, reported three dead.
These three people were crushed during the collapse of a home in the district of Sumenep (east Java island). Even if the damage has been relatively limited, “the earthquake hit, brutally so they have not had time to leave”, he explained.
This earthquake occurred at 18: 44 GMT, in the north-east of the eastern tip of Java, at a depth of 10.3 km according to the american Institute of geophysics (USGS).
It was felt in Denpasar, the capital city of Bali, a tourist island where the international monetary Fund and the world Bank hold their annual meeting.
“It was very powerful and it lasted a long time,” testified a woman, prénommant Davy, who had taken refuge on the parking lot of a hotel.
The shake has pushed many people out as quickly as possible at home. “I immediately woke up my young children and took them out of the house”, told AFP a resident of Bali, Ni Komang Sudiani. “All my neighbors are also running”.
The earthquake was felt up in Surabaya, the capital of the eastern province of Java, situated approximately 200 km from Situbondo, the closest city to the epicenter.
– Tsunami warning –
On 28 September, an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 followed by a tsunami had devastated a good part of the indonesian island of Sulawesi, about 1,000 kilometres north of Situbondo. The provisional toll is around 2,000 deaths.
In Papua New Guinea, the earthquake struck at dawn, at 20h48 GMT. The epicenter, with a depth of almost 40 kilometres, is located 125 kilometres to the east of the town of Kimbe, said the USGS.
The warning Center for tsunamis in the Pacific has warned that a tsunami could hit the coasts of this country, and the Solomon islands. The waves are expected to increase at least 0.3 meter, with a variable amplitude according to the islands.
According to a spokesperson for the Office of natural disaster management papouasien in Port Moresby, there was no damage reported in the immediate future, but this administration could be informed later in the day.
The USGS has estimated on its website that there was a “low likelihood of casualties and damage following the earthquake. But, he recalled, “earthquakes recent in this region have caused disasters subsequent as tsunamis, landslides, and mudslides that have been able to contribute to the loss of human lives”.
Papua New Guinea is still recovering from an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 in the interior of the land at the end of February. He had killed at least 125 people, and cut off from the world some of the mountain villages.