04/12/2021, 13.19
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Eight people die and 39 are injured in East Java earthquake, thousands buildings damaged

by Mathias Hariyadi

The toll  is set to rise over the next few hours. The 6.1 Richter earthquake struck on Saturday, 91 km off the coast of Malang. Serious damage was reported to schools, hospitals and places of worship. Images of the devastation flooded social media. 

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – At least eight people are confirmed dead and 39 injured, some of them seriously, following a 6.1 Richter magnitude earthquake that hit Malang district, East Java province, on Saturday, Indonesia’s civil protection agency (BNPB) reported.

The earthquake had a strong impact on at least 15 districts and towns in the region, severely damaging 2,848 houses and 179 public buildings, including schools, hospitals and places of worship.

Initially, the Indonesia Geophysics and Climatology Agency (BMKG) had announced a 6.7 earthquake, and then corrected the information.

Images of damaged houses and rubbles in coastal towns in East Java are flooding social media, especially from the area near the epicentre of the quake. Mardi Waluyo, in Blitar, is one of the hospitals that suffered serious damage, with falling ceilings.

According to experts, the death toll (and the damages) is set to increase in the coming days, as rescue operations continue.

The ground shook at 2 pm (local time) and was felt in much of East Java province, home to about 40.7 million people, and the nearby provinces of Central Java and the resort island of Bali.

Throughout the day yesterday several aftershocks of lower intensity were reported.

The epicentre was located 91 km southwest of the Malang coast, at a depth of 80 km in the Indian Ocean. For experts, this is a “moderate” earthquake, and is not expected to trigger a tsunami or volcanic eruptions in the affected area.

The earthquake comes just days after the devastation of Cyclone Seroja in East Nusa Tenggara province, which President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited over the weekend, extending the state of emergency to East Java as well.

Ramadan, the Islamic month dedicated to fasting and prayer, is set to begin tomorrow in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Indonesia, which is on the “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific Ocean, is often hit by deadly earthquakes and tsunamis.

In January, a 6.2 earthquake struck Mamuju and other cities in West Sulawesi province, killing more than 100 people. In 2018, a 7.5 earthquake caused a tsunami, claiming 4,300 lives (dead and missing).

Many more people died in 2004, when a 9.1 earthquake – with the epicentre off Sumatra – triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people in the Indian Ocean region, 170,000 in Indonesia alone.

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