At least eight dead after magnitude 6 earthquake in Indonesia

A strong earthquake on Indonesia’s main island of Java killed eight people, including a woman whose motorcycle was hit by falling rocks, and damaged more than 1,300 buildings, officials said.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.0 quake struck off the island’s southern coast at 2pm on Saturday.

It was centred 45km (28 miles) south of Sumberpucung town of Malang district in East Java province, at a depth of 82km (51 miles ).

Rahmat Triyono, head of Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami centre, said the undersea quake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami but nevertheless urged people to stay away from slopes of soil or rocks that have the potential for landslides.

It was the second deadly disaster to hit Indonesia in a week, after Tropical Cyclone Seroja caused a severe downpour last Sunday, which killed at least 174 people and left 48 still missing in East Nusa Tenggara province.

Some victims were buried in either mudslides or solidified lava from a volcanic eruption in November, while others were swept away by flash floods. Thousands of homes were damaged.

Saturday’s earthquake caused falling rocks which killed a woman on a motorcycle and badly injured her husband in East Java’s Lumajang district, said Raditya Jati, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Damage to a hospital ward iin Blitar, East Java after the earthquake struck. Photograph: Avian/AFP/Getty Images
Damage to a hospital ward iin Blitar, East Java after the earthquake struck. Photograph: Avian/AFP/Getty Images

He said about 1,189 homes and 150 public facilities, including schools, hospitals and government offices, were damaged.

Rescuers retrieved four bodies from the rubble in Lumajang’s Kali Uling village. Three people were also confirmed killed by the quake in Malang district.

Television reports showed people running in panic from shopping centres and buildings in several cities in East Java province.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 270 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In January, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 105 people and injured nearly 6,500, while more than 92,000 were displaced, after striking Mamuju and Majene districts in West Sulawesi province.– AP

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