JAKARTA, Indonesia – Merely days after suffering a deadly disaster that killed hundreds of people, Indonesia was struck by a powerful earthquake on Monday morning.
The U.S. Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) said in its alert that an earthquake measuring magnitude 7.0 struck Indonesia’s Moluccas Islands in the wee hours of Monday.
The alert noted that at 12.27 am, the country’s North Maluku province was jolted by the quake, which struck at a depth of 10 kms.
Following the quake, Indonesia’s emergency services were placed on alert as local authorities across the affected region tried to collect facts to ascertain the impact of the quake.
In its second update on the quake, the U.S.G.S. clarified that the powerful quake had not triggered any Tsunami warning.
The earthquake monitoring agency also added that the initial powerful tremor was followed by a series of aftershocks measuring magnitude 5.0 to 5.1.
In subsequent updates, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Indonesia’s Geophysics Agency too confirmed that there was no tsunami threat following the initial tremor and the aftershocks based on the available data.
However, a short while after the region was jolted, the U.S.G.S. revised the magnitude of the quake to 6.6.
The agency said that the quake struck 174 km (108 miles) north-northwest of the city of Ternate, in the North Maluku part of the Molucca islands.
Further, it noted that the epicenter of the quake was located at a depth of 60.5 kms.
While there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties following the quake, several people living close to the epicenter said that they had experienced the earth shaking.
Residents quoted in local reports said that they ran out of their houses in panic following the initial tremor.
Later in the day, an official from the search and rescue agency in Ternate, Samud Sergi told reporters that the quakes had not been felt in the city, that has a population of about 200,000 people.
While authorities in Ternate city said they were still assessing any possible impact from the tremor, an official from North Sulawesi said that they had not felt the jolt or the aftershocks.
The spokesperson for the Emergency Disaster Agency in North Sulawesi’s Tohomon area said that they had “felt nothing in the area.”
The spokesperson added that, so far, they had not heard of any damage or casualties.
Series of disasters continues
The quake on Monday struck the region merely days after a massive tsunami crashed through the coastline of Sunda Strait, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction.
On December 22, tsunami waves as high as 3 meters (10 feet), fiercely swept over entire fishing villages and holiday resort beaches across the Sunda Strait, that runs between the Java and Sumatra coasts.
More than 437 people were killed, 14,059 were injured and 40,386 others were displaced.
Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical agency (BMKG) said in its assessment that the surge of seawater was triggered by the eruption of one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes – Anak Krakatoa or Child of Krakatau.
Volcanologists linked the tsunami last month to the undersea landslides caused by the eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano.
The volcano caused the land under Anak Krakatau to shift, generating giant tsunami waves that crashed into the Sunda Strait less than 30 minutes after the eruption.
According to experts, the tsunami struck after an area of the volcano island of the size of about 64 hectares (222 acres), or about 90 soccer pitches, collapsed into the ocean in the aftermath of the eruption.
Authorities also added that the eruption came at high tide during a full moon and that the Sunda Strait had been having a spell of high rainfall that night.
The volcanic island of Anak Krakatau emerged from the ocean more than half a century back after the cataclysmic 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano.
When Krakatoa erupted in the 19th century, it caused four huge and violent explosions, propelling a jet of ash, stones and smoke to a height of 80 kms (260,000 ft).
The violent eruption plunged the region into darkness, sparking a huge tsunami that was felt around the world and killed more than 36,000 people.
The sprawling archipelago – Indonesia straddles the geological disaster zone in the Pacific called the Ring of Fire, which has seismically active tectonic plates.
The series of fragile fault lines that form the Ring of Fire stretch 25,000 miles from New Zealand, across the east coast of Asia through Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, over to Alaska, Canada and the U.S. West Coast then down to the southern tip of South America.
Overall, the Ring of Fire contains 452 volcanoes and several tectonic plates in the earths crust and more than half of the worlds active volcanoes above sea level are part of the ring.
Indonesia sits atop this arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin – making it more prone to frequent seismic and volcanic activity.