Six Dead After Strong Quake Strikes Near Indonesia’s Ambon

By Reuters
September 26, 2019World News
Six Dead After Strong Quake Strikes Near Indonesia’s Ambon
A damaged traditional market building is pictured following an earthquake in Ambon, Maluku province on Sept. 26, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. (Antara Foto/Izaak Mulyawan/via Reuters)

AMBON, Indonesia—At least six people died on Sept. 26 after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit Indonesia’s eastern province of Maluku, damaging buildings and sending people fleeing to the hills, officials and witnesses said.

Disaster officials said the early morning quake, initially measured at a magnitude of 6.8, woke residents of towns such as provincial capital Ambon, about 40 km (25 miles) from the epicenter, but the geophysics agency ruled out a tsunami.

A spokesman for Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), Agus Wibowo, told reporters in Jakarta that six people had been killed in Maluku by falling rubble, while four were injured. He said the number of casualties is likely to increase.

One person was killed when part of the third floor at an Islamic university collapsed in the quake, said Benny Bugis, a cameraman who works for Reuters.

“He was just getting out of a car and entering a door and the collapsing rubble fell onto him,” Bugis said, adding that two people were also injured.

BNPB data showed numerous buildings and public facilities were damaged by the quake, including government and university buildings, while some fracturing was seen on a major bridge in the city of Ambon.

NTD Photo
Map of Seram Island in Maluku province, Indonesia. (Reuters)

Albert Simaela, a disaster agency official in Ambon, said people had fled from areas near the ocean, fearing a tsunami.

“Now everyone has headed to the hills, by motorcycles, by cars and on foot. The traffic is clogged,” he told Reuters.

“Children are off school now, the city is quiet because everyone has evacuated. Although there is information that there will be no tsunami, people are still afraid.”

Wibowo reiterated that a tsunami had been ruled out and urged residents to remain calm but alert for any aftershocks.

Indonesia’s geophysics agency reported a number of tremors following the main quake, including one of magnitude 5.6.

Video images on social media showed plaster and rubble scattered on floors and chairs in the Al Anshor Islamic boarding school, but a witness said no injuries were reported there.

A resident walks at a damaged university building following an earthquake in Ambon, Indonesia on Sept. 26, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. (Antara Foto/via Reuters)
Concrete rubble are seen on the floor of a classroom at Al Anshor Islamic Boarding School after an earthquake in Ambon, Maluku province, Indonesia on Sept. 26, 2019, in this still image from video obtained via social media. (Weul Artafella via Reuters)

Another video showed large cracks and broken glass at a car showroom.

The state power company said electricity had been cut off in several areas after the quake, but was mostly restored.

Indonesia, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, often experiences deadly earthquakes and tsunamis.

In September 2018, Palu, on the island of Sulawesi west of Maluku, was devastated by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and a powerful tsunami it unleashed, killing more than 4,000 people.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 in 14 countries, more than 120,000 of them in Indonesia.

By Ed Davies, Gayatri Suroyo and Jessica Damiana

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