6.8 Earthquake Strikes Indonesia, Sparking Tsunami Warning and sending terrified locals fleeing from their homes
6.8 earthquake strikes off of Indonesia, sparking brief tsunami warning and sending terrified locals fleeing from their homes.
A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia today sparking a brief tsunami warning and sending terrified residents running for higher ground.
Panic broke out as buildings swayed and electricity was cut off when the quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 miles off the east coast of Sulawesi island.
Indonesia’s geophysics agency issued a tsunami warning for coastal communities in Morowali district, where residents were advised to move away from the coast.
The epicenter of the quake was off the coast of eastern Sulawesi, 175 miles south of the province of Gorontalo and on the other side of the island from the disaster-hit city of Palu, where a 7.5-magnitude quake followed by a 20ft tsunami killed more than 4,400 people last September.
However, tremors were still felt near Palu, causing residents to run into the streets in panic.
After about 40 minutes the agency lifted the tsunami warning, while still urging people to remain vigilant and evacuate to higher ground. It had estimated the wave at under a half meter (20 inches).
In the twin quake-and-tsunami tragedy that hit Palu, high waves hit the shore after the tsunami warning had been lifted.
Hapsah Abdul Madjid, who lives in Luwuk city in Banggai district, Central Sulawesi, where the tremor was felt strongly, said people fled to higher ground and the electricity was cut, adding that residents’ fears soared over an imminent tsunami.
Video footage from Luwuk city showed scared residents – some carrying children – running from their homes and racing to higher ground on motorcycles.
Gina Saerang, a resident of Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province several hundred kilometers from the epicenter, described the quake on social media as ‘strong and long-lasting’.
‘I ran straight outside after the earthquake – everything was swaying,’ 29-year-old Palu resident Mahfuzah told AFP.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the USGS warned that considerable damage was possible in poorly built or badly designed structures.
Thousands in Palu were living in makeshift shelters six months after the September 28 disaster, with at least 170,000 residents of the city and surrounding districts displaced and entire neighborhoods still in ruins, despite life returning to normal in other areas of the tsunami-struck city.
The force of the quake saw entire neighborhoods leveled by liquefaction – a process where the ground starts behaving like a liquid and swallows up the earth like quicksand.
Apart from the damage to tens of thousands of buildings, the disaster destroyed fishing boats, shops, and irrigation systems, robbing residents of their income.
Indonesia has said the damage bill in Palu topped $900 million. The World Bank has offered the country up to $1 billion in loans to get the city back on its feet.
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.
Last year was a particularly tough one, however, with more than 2,500 disasters ranging from a series of deadly earthquakes to killer landslides and volcanic eruptions.
Sulawesi is one of the five main islands of the sprawling archipelago, which is also dotted with more than 100 volcanoes.
In late 2018, a volcano in the middle of the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands erupted and unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 400 people.