Indonesia lifts tsunami warning after powerful quake off Sumatra, Java

Indonesia lifts tsunami warning after powerful quake off Sumatra, Java

Indonesia earthquake breaking news
A local TV station reporting an earthquake in Indonesia on Aug 2, 2019. (Photo: Low Zoey)

JAKARTA: A strong earthquake struck off Indonesia's islands of Sumatra and Java on Friday (Aug 2), triggering a warning of a possible 3m tsunami.

The 6.9 magnitude quake hit at a depth 52.8km, 150km from Labuan, southwest of the capital Jakarta, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS initially put the quake's magnitude at 6.8 and a shallower depth.

The tsunami warning was lifted more than two hours later. 

Indonesia's disaster agency had earlier said that a tsunami could strike the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands, where a December volcano-sparked tsunami killed more than 400 people.

It urged people living in high-risk areas along the coast to evacuate to higher ground.

The epicentre of the earthquake that stuck off the coast of Indonesia's island of Sumatra
The epicentre of the earthquake that stuck off the coast of Indonesia's island of Sumatra on Aug 2, 2019. (Map: USGS)

BUILDINGS SWAYED

There were no immediate reports of damage, but the quake could also be felt in other cities such as Yogyakarta on Java island.

Jakarta residents fled their homes as buildings in the megacity swayed from the force of the quake, which struck at 7.03pm (8.03pm Singapore time).

READ: Indonesians flee buildings as Indian Ocean quake shakes cities hundreds of kilometres from epicentre

"The chandelier in my apartment was shaking and I just ran from the 19th floor," said 50-year-old Elisa. "Everybody else ran too. It was a really strong jolt and I was very scared."

Employees of an office building stand outside after evacuating following a strong earthquake
Employees of an office building stand outside after evacuating following a strong earthquake in the area in Serpong, Banten province, on Aug 2, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Indaryani)

"I was on the 18th floor when the building swayed. It was quite big and lasted for about a minute," said Ms Christabelle Adeline whose office is in central Jakarta.

"Fortunately the office was largely quiet because everyone has gone home. But for us who were working late it was horrifying. We hid underneath our desks and when the quake stopped the building sounded the alarm and we were all told to evacuate."

Residents stand outside in the street after a strong earthquake hit the area around Jakarta
Residents stand outside in the street after a strong earthquake hit the area around Jakarta on Aug 2, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Bay Ismoyo)

Mr Sam John, who was in Jakarta for business and staying at the Mercure Jakarta Simatupang, was having dinner at a restaurant with his companions when "the whole place started to shake".

"We left everything and moved out to the evacuation point as instructed by the hotel staff," he told CNA. 

People stand in the street after evacuating the Mercure Jakarta Simatupang hotel
People stand in the street after evacuating the Mercure Jakarta Simatupang hotel after a strong earthquake hit the area around Jakarta on Aug 2, 2019. (Photo: Sam John)

"It was medium-level (shaking) as we were not close to the epicentre but it was indeed alarming as this was my first experience.

"We waited for 30 minutes outside. We are all okay now. They told us we are safe to enter back in," he added. 

A hotel guest in Jakarta who did not want to be named said she felt the tremors at about 7pm local time. “I ran out of the shower, pulled my dress on and ran down with my passport."

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.

At least five people were killed and thousands were forced from their homes after a major 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit the remote Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia last month.

Lombok, next to holiday hotspot Bali, was rocked by earthquakes last summer that killed more than 500 and sparked a mass exodus of foreigners from the tropical paradise.

Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island killed more than 2,200 people, with another thousand declared missing.

On Dec 26, 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 across the Indian Ocean region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.

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Source: Agencies/CNA/hs/ec

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