A magnitude 7 earthquake has struck an island off the coast of Indonesia killing at least 37 people and injured dozens of others.
The powerful earthquake struck the popular resort island of Lombok Indonesia and was felt on Bali, just to the west of the Island according to Indonesia’s national Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.
Television footage showed panicked residents and tourists fleeing to safety on both islands, after the government issued a warning about the quake and major aftershocks which could cause a devastating tsunami.
The magnitude 7.0 quake which was first announced as a magnitude 6.8 and later revised upward tore through North Lombok’s coastal region early evening and damaged Lombok’s physical structures, including two shopping malls and a cathedral.
It had been initially reported that only three people had died in the quake after an electrical blackout hit the Island following the quake, the casualty figure was however later revised to 37 as confirmed by Muhammad Rum, the head of the West Nusa Tenggara Disaster Mitigation Agency, in an interview with Metro TV.
The earthquake was mostly felt in Mataran, the capital of Lombok Island, prompting residents to flee their homes. It was also felt in Sumbawa Island, to the east of Lombok according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Board; twelve aftershocks followed the earthquake.
The Indonesia agency reported that the earthquake struck at 6:46 p.m. western Indonesian time and initially said Sunday’s earthquake did not generate a tsunami, but within minutes put out a warning that a possible tsunami had formed off the north coast of Lombok. It said a tsunami was detected in the Carik and Badas areas; it however lifted the warning much later.
The head of the meteorology agency said there were increased wave levels of 14 centimeters, or 5.5 inches, in the village of Carik, in North Lombok. “We predict the highest wave levels to be only one-half a meter,” she said.
Indonesia, which straddles the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck off the southern coast of Java, Indonesia’s main island, rocking buildings in the country’s capital, Jakarta, and sending people fleeing into the streets earlier in January.