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Tsunami warning cancelled after earthquake strikes off Indonesia's Sumatra, Java

Sydney Morning Herald - August 3, 2019

Karuni Rompies, James Massola and Amilia Rosa, Jakarta – Indonesian authorities have cancelled a tsunami warning about two hours after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off the islands of Sumatra and the main island of Java.

Buildings in Jakarta swayed for nearly a minute during the evening quake. Hospitals in West Java's cities of Bogor, Ciamis and Cianjur – near the capital of Jakarta – evacuated patients, some attached to intravenous drips, to the hospital grounds, television footage showed.People leave a shopping mall following an earthquake in Jakarta.

Authorities had urged people living near the coast to immediately find higher ground and thousands of locals had fled their homes in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake but, thankfully, the prospect of waves up to three metres high did not eventuate.

There are no reports of deaths at this stage but injuries have been reported, as has damage to buildings.

Indonesia was hit by two major tsunamis last year. The first centred on the city of Palu, on the island of Sulawei, and killed thousands of people while the second was in Banten Province, killing hundreds.

The US Geological Survey said Friday's magnitude-6.8 quake was centred 151 kilometres from Banten province off the island's south west coast. It hit at a depth of 42.8 kilometres.

Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency, the BNPB, had urged residents in Banten Province, on the west coast of Java, to "immediately evacuate to higher ground".

Strong tremors were felt in Jakarta, the capital, prompting people to run out of office buildings.

The tsunami warning had been issued in several areas in the provinces of Banten and Lampung.

South Pandeglang and Pulau Panaitan in Banten were warned of possible waves of up to three metres, while the West Lampung area in Lampung province was also warned of waves up to three metres high.People gather as they evacuate from a building.

There were also fears about a possible landslide into the sea, and that the earthquake could have an impact on the Krakatoa volcano in the Sunda Strait.

Initially, Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (known as the BMKG), called on people living in coastal areas to move to higher ground but she also urged people not to panic.

But Dwikorita said, about two hours after the earthquake struck at 7pm Jakarta time (10pm AEST) that, "people living in areas in which a tsunami was predicted are advised to go back calmly to your homes, but to stay alert when aftershocks occur."

Irna Narulita, the regent of Pandeglang regent, one of areas where a tsunami was expected, said that so far 22 houses had been confirmed as having collapsed but "there is no reports of any deaths. But give us time to collect all information".

The quake caused panic in the Pandeglang region of Banten province, where people ran to higher ground. Pandeglang, which encompasses Unjung Kulon National Park and popular beaches, is where a deadly tsunami struck in the dark without warning last December, killing at least 222 people as waves smashed into houses, hotels and other beachside buildings along the Sunda Strait.

In a video circulating on social media, students at the Nurul Fikri Islamic boarding school near Anyer Beach, in Banten, can be heard screaming the aftermath of the earthquake.

The students were in the middle of a Quran reading session when the earthquake struck. A few students from the 7th grade have minor injuries from falling ceiling debris and some of the damage to the school is visible.

Indonesia's Transport Ministry has now issued a statement that the capital's main airport, Soekarno-Hatta, was operating normally.

The sea ports of Merak and Bakaheuni are also operating normally and Jakarta's underground train system, the MRT, stopped operating for around 10 minutes

That tsunami followed an eruption and a possible landslide on Anaka Krakatau, one of the world's most famous volcanic islands, about 112 kilometres south west of Jakarta.

Last year, Indonesia was rattled by more than 11,500 earthquakes, almost double the annual average of the past decade, according to the nation's meteorological agency.

– With Reuters, AP, Bloomberg

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/tsunami-warning-cancelled-after-earthquake-strikes-off-indonesia-s-sumatra-java-20190802-p52dhg.html