Amnah Khalid BeyondHeadlines
Kuala Lumpur: A powerful earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale according US Geological Survey (USGS) and 7.1 by the Indonesian Metrological and Geophysisis Agency (IMSA), hit Java at 3.a.m Monday morning. Initial reports of damage and death are sketchy and still awaited.
The US Geological Survey claimed the epicenter to be just 24 km beneath the ocean and 300km off the coast of Java. Authorities fearing a big tsunami issued an immediate warning to alert residents. However, after a ninety minute watch, the Pacific Tsunami warning center, claimed the threat had passed and, a ‘destructive widespread tsunami does not exist’.
Recent memories of disaster in Japan and Ache had residents sigh, “we were very scared after seeing what happened in Japan and Ache, but God listened to our prayers. He spared us”, said a resident. Two years ago a similar earthquake of 7.0 on the scale had killed 44 residents.
Local radio El Shinta reported that residents panicked and poured onto streets. Many ran to higher ground and others taking shelter in local mosques. While local TV showed long queues at petrol stations for fuel preparing to escape and leave town as far and fast as possible.
Ache tsunami had left 170,000 Indonesians killed or missing and 500,000 homeless. The massive earthquake of 9.1 and a subsequent tsunami had hit Indonesia on 24th December 2004 killing 230,000 people in dozens of countries, initiating from the same region close to Bali.
Indonesia, known as the,’ Ring of Fire’ is full of fault lines and forms an arc of volcanoes prone to seismic activity in the Pacific region. Japan too lies on fault lines and a month back experienced the worse disaster in its history. 250,000 residents are feared dead in the earthquake and following tsunami and fear of catastrophic nuclear leak looming large.