Thu, 26 Oct 2000

Western Java hit by major earthquake

JAKARTA (JP): An earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale on Wednesday afternoon jolted most of the western part of the island of Java, including the capital Jakarta, sending people running in panic from homes, office buildings, shopping centers, hotels and apartments.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage or casualties but a black-out occurred in several parts of Jakarta and in the town of Pandeglang. Minor cracks were found at the Lippo Carita Apartments at the popular resort of Anyer in the northern coastal area of Banten.

There were reports from Singapore, according to AP, that the quake also reached there and some people living in the high-rise buildings in the tiny city-state, about 900 kilometers from Java, felt the jolt.

Sridiharto, head of the National Meteorology and Geophysics Office, said the tremor lasted for about three minutes, starting at 4:32 p.m., and that the epicenter was about 72 kilometers southwest of Panaitan Island, near the Ujung Kulon conservation park on the western tip of Java, which is over 200 kilometers southwest of Jakarta.

The jolt was centered at a depth of between 33 kilometers and 60 kilometers beneath the Indian Ocean, Sridiharto said.

It was one of the strongest in a series of earthquakes to rock Java and other parts of the country over the past two years.

Wednesday was a public holiday and most workers were at home or on holidays with families.

In Greater Jakarta, people fled from buildings, particularly shopping centers and entertainment places, which were heavily crowded during the public holiday.

Antara reported that several windows in its building on Jl. Medan Merdeka in Central Jakarta were broken.

In Bogor, south of here, many people, including bus passengers and drivers of public vehicles, fled their cars in panic.

The same sight was also seen in the popular mountainous resort area of Puncak, which was crowded with holiday-makers from Jakarta. Many of people left their cars on the streets and ran in panic into the surrounding tea plantations, resulting in heavy traffic congestion.

A sales officer of Lippo Carita Apartments, Indra, said the apartment suffered minor cracks in one of the connecting walls of the building.

"There are some cracks in the connecting wall but it's not dangerous for the apartment's residents because it's not a structural wall," Indra said during a live interview with Elshinta Radio.

Tanjung Lesung Resort Hotel at the far-western tip of Java felt the jolt strongly since it is located quite close to the quake's epicenter.

"Some of our guests left their rooms immediately, but there is no damage here," a security officer at the hotel told the Post.

Some of the residents of Pandeglang, West Java, said there was a black-out in the town for around 15 minutes shortly after the quake and that some buildings received minor cracks.

"Some parts of my house walls were cracked and the electricity went out for some 10 to 15 minutes. Everybody was in a panic here," Husein told the Post by phone. (dja/bsr/21)