Strong Quake Sparks Panic in Indonesia

A strong quake rattled Indonesia Tuesday, sparking panic in the capital Jakarta and ripping roads apart in the countryside.

Office workers rushed outside as buildings began swaying, while riders were thrown off their motorbikes by the force of the 6.0 magnitude rumble.

Footage broadcast on Indonesian television showed trucks swaying violently from side to side at a port in Banten province on the northwestern tip of Java. Pictures posted to social media showed huge cracks splitting roads and minor damage to vehicles and buildings.

It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

"I was sitting when the building suddenly started shaking," said Jakarta department store worker Suji, 35, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

"I ran outside the building. It was quite strong and I was afraid." 

The United States Geological Survey said the 6.0 magnitude quake struck at a depth of 43 kilometres (27 miles).

There was no warning of any tsunami.

The epicentre was off the coast, about 130 kilometres southwest of Jakarta, a sprawling city of more than 10 million people.

"The epicentre is in an area prone to quakes. More aftershocks are very likely," Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics agency chief Dwikorita Karnawati told Metro TV.

"I'm calling on people to be prepared, especially if you are in buildings with a weak structure," he added.

The tremor came as US Defense Secretary James Mattis was in Jakarta for an official visit.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates meet, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

At least three people were killed following a 6.5-magnitude earthquake just outside the coastal town of Cipatujah on Java island in mid-December.

The tremor was felt across the densely populated island, causing damage to hundreds of houses and other buildings.

An earthquake struck Indonesia's western province of Aceh in December 2016, killing more than 100 people, injuring many more and leaving tens of thousands homeless. 

Aceh was one of the areas worst hit by the devastating 2004 tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra.

The wall of waves killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Source: Agence France Presse

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