Earthquake hits Indonesia’s Maluku islands killing one

Quake displaces hundreds of residents after it damages more than 230 homes on Indonesia’s Maluku islands

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

An earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Maluku islands has left at least one person dead and 22 others injured in Buru, where hundreds were displaced as residents continued feeling aftershocks the following day. 
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson said Monday, “the impact of the earthquake is one person died, 19 people were slightly injured, and three people were seriously injured in South Buru Regency.”
State news agency Antara also quoted him as saying that a mosque and more than 230 houses were damaged in Sunday’s magnitude-5.4 tremor.
The quake, which struck 66 kilometres (41 miles) southeast of Buru island, had been felt strongly by residents for around two seconds.
Nugroho said Monday that the South Buru Disaster Management Agency was still evacuating those impacted and giving assistance to and collect data about them. 
He added that efforts were hindered by limited accessibility, large ocean waves and bad weather.
Hundreds of locals from several villages in Ambalau District were evacuated to shelters after their homes suffered severe damage.
Mohamad Namkatu, a resident of Ulima village, told on Monday that his family’s house was destroyed. 
"We were forced to flee together with other residents," he said, adding that many others whose homes were badly damaged took refuge with relatives or stayed in tents in an open field.
"They built the tents on their own," he said.
Awat Mahulauw, South Buru Disaster Management Agency chief, told the news website that noticeable aftershocks continued Monday morning.
"There were 15 aftershocks felt by residents so far, therefore we urge them to remain alert," he stressed.
"The [aftershocks’] shaking is not strong like the first earthquake, but it makes citizen afraid so they run out of their houses.”
Maluku province is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis as it lies on the convergence point of three of the region’s major tectonic plates.
Over the last two months, the region has been experiencing earthquake “swarms” that involve sequences of tremors – even hundreds per day – of relatively minor magnitude.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency recorded as many as 1,171 earthquakes in the North Maluku region in November and December that forced more than 10,000 people to evacuate.
Indonesia lies within the Pacific’s "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

AA, TRTWorld and agencies