Saturday, June 26, 2010

Strong 6.3 quake hits Indonesia's Java

Strong 6.3 quake hits Indonesia's Java
Posted: 26 June 2010 1843 hrs

JAKARTA - A strong earthquake struck off Indonesia's Java island Saturday but there were no immediate reports of damage and no tsunami warning was issued, seismologists said.

The quake struck at 4:50 pm (0950 GMT), 118 kilometres (73 miles) south west of Tasikmalaya, West Java, at a depth of 34 kilometres, Indonesia's geophysics and meteorological agency said.

The Indonesian agency measured the quake as magnitude 6.3, but the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured it at 5.8.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity. - AFP/vm

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Quakes kill three in Indonesia

Posted: 16 June 2010 1156 2010 1156 hrs

MANOKWARI, Indonesia : A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake killed at least two people and damaged hundreds of homes in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami warning and widespread panic.

The victims were crushed when their homes collapsed on Yapen island, close to the epicentre off the northern coast of Papua province, police said.

"Two people, a child and an adult woman, were killed by falling debris of houses," Yapen Island police chief Deny Siregar said.

The quake struck off the southeast coast of Yapen at 12:16 pm (0316 GMT), officials said. It was the second of a series of strong quakes felt across a vast but sparsely populated area including Biak island.

Another person was killed when a 5.3-magnitude quake rattled West Sulawesi province, the Antara news agency reported.

Indonesia's Geophysics and Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for waters off northern Papua but it was lifted an hour later.

"I was driving my car to the office... I felt a huge tremor for about one or two minutes. The car was being flung around," Biak resident Osibyo Wakum said.

He said people rushed out of homes and buildings as the quake rocked the reef-fringed tropical island around lunchtime.

About 500 homes, a church, a power station and government buildings were destroyed or damaged on Yapen, which has a population of about 70,000, police and officials said.

Officials said people were evacuated to higher ground due to fears of a tsunami, but by mid-afternoon they had returned and the situation was normal.

"Residents have returned to their homes and gone back to doing their normal activities," Disaster Management Agency official Slamet Sugiyono said, adding that helicopters and speed boats were being used to survey the damage.

Thousands of people also fled their homes and workplaces in the West Papua provincial capital of Manokwari about 300 kilometres (180 miles) to the northwest of the epicentre.

"There was a swaying movement for about 40 seconds. People ran out of their homes, shouting 'get out, get out, the earth is shaking'," said an AFP correspondent in Manokwari.

Many people remained outside as a series of powerful aftershocks, the strongest with a magnitude of 6.6, shook the region.

Antara reported that the man killed on Sulawesi island was working in a sand mine when the earlier quake struck. About 50 houses were destroyed and a landslide injured several people, local officials said.

The vast Indonesian archipelago stretches from the Pacific to the Indian oceans and straddles major seismic faultlines that trigger thousands of quakes a year.

The 2004 Asian tsunami killed at least 168,000 people in Indonesia alone when the sea surged over the northern tip of Sumatra island after a 9.3-magnitude quake split the seabed to the west.

A 7.6-magnitude quake killed about 1,000 people in the port of Padang, western Sumatra, in September last year.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit northern Sumatra in April but caused no significant damage.

Scientists cannot predict when the next major earthquake will hit Indonesia but they say it is only a matter of time before another catastrophe on the same or even greater scale as 2004 strikes the archipelago again.

- AFP/ir

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Strong 6.1-magnitude quake off Japan, no tsunami warning

Posted: 13 June 2010 1202 hrs

TOKYO - A strong quake with a magnitude of 6.1 hit off Japan's Honshu island Sunday, but no tsunami warning was immediately issued, seismologists said.

The quake struck at 12:33 pm (0333 GMT) at a depth of 40 kilometres (25 miles), some 100 kilometres from Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

There was no likelihood of a tsunami, the agency said.

There was no immediate report of damage or injuries, an official in Fukushima prefecture said.

The US Geological survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.1, while the Japanese agency said it measured 6.2.

The USGS had originally recorded the quake at 6.4.

- AFP /ls

Major 7.5-magnitude quake strikes off India's Nicobar Islands

Posted: 13 June 2010 0403 hrs

NEW DELHI: A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck under the Indian Ocean on Sunday, triggering a tsunami watch for nearby islands and causing tremors reportedly felt along India's eastern seaboard.

The quake hit at 1:26 am local time (1926 GMT) at a depth of 35 kilometres with the epicentre around 160 kilometres west of India's Nicobar Islands.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, based in Hawaii, initially issued a warning for the entire Indian Ocean region. This was downgraded to a warning for India only, when the magnitude of the quake was revised to 7.5 from 7.7, and later the centre cancelled the alert altogether.

India's ocean information centre issued a "tsunami watch" for 10-15 islands, but said it was expecting only a mild surge in sea levels of about 50 centimetres.

"This is nothing alarming, but just a watch," Sriniwas Kumar, a spokesman from the state-run Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services told AFP by telephone from the agency's headquarters in Hyderabad.

The tremors were felt more than 1,000 kilometres from the epicentre on mainland India, where many were shaken awake in the dead of night, causing some to flee their homes in panic, the Press Trust of India reported.

Moderate tremors were felt in the southeastern coastal city of Chennai, but there were no reports of casualties or damage to property, according to police.

The US Geological Survey initially gave the magnitude of the quake as 7.7 before revising it down to 7.5.

Indian Ocean islands were badly hit by the 2004 Asian tsunami which was triggered by an earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra and sent giant waves crashing across the region.

The 2004 tsunami killed more than 220,000 people, most of them in the northern Indonesian province of Aceh. Thousands of people were also killed in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and India.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are some of India's most easterly territories and more than 350,000 people live on the 572 islands flanked by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

The Andaman Sea area witnesses frequent earthquakes caused by the meeting of the Indian tectonic plate with the Burmese microplate along an area known as the Andaman trench.

- AFP/de

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Moderate quake hits Papua New Guinea: US seismologists

PORT MORESBY (AFP) - – A moderate, 5.8-magnitude quake struck Papua New Guinea Wednesday, US seismologists said, lowering previous estimates.

The quake struck at 0928 GMT with its epicentre 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of the town of Kandrian on New Britain island at a depth of about 52 kilometres, the United States Geological Survey said.

An initial report by the USGS estimated the quake at 6.2 magnitude at a depth of 40 kilometres.

There was no alert from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii.

Geoscience Australia, which also put the quake's epicentre at a depth of 52 kilometres, did not change its estimate of a strong, 6.2 magnitude earthquake.

"People close to it would have felt it quite strongly," Geoscience Australia seismologist David Jepsen told AFP. "There's possibly some local damage.

"With other events of that sort of magnitude and in that area, typically you don't hear of much damage...."

Papua New Guinea, which is mired in poverty despite rich mineral deposits, sits on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.