A powerful earthquake struck off the Indonesian island of Java at 07:55:01 UTC (14:55:01 local time) on September 2, 2009, destroying hundreds of buildings, killing at least 32 people and injuring 305 more. The earthquake, measuring 7.0Mw, was located around 59 miles (95 kilometers) south-southwest of Bandung and 68 miles (109 kilometers) south-southeast of Sukabumi, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS added that the quake was centered about 30 miles (49 kilometers) underground. Officials said around 1,300 buildings were damaged by the earthquake and around 5,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes.
The USGS said more than 30 million people live in areas impacted by a Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) of V or higher. Three towns with a population of more than 100,000 people (Banjaran, Paseh and Soreang) experienced intensity VI on the MMI scale, equivalent to strong shaking with the potential for moderate/light damage, according to the USGS. The USGS added that Bandung (population of around 1.7 million) was affected by intensity V on the MMI scale while the capital of Jakarta (population of around 8.5 million) experienced intensity IV. The Indonesian authorities issued a tsunami warning for Java following the earthquake. Seismologists recorded a slight rise in the sea level, indicating there had been a small tsunami, but no damage was reported and the alert was quickly lifted.
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According to reports, the earthquake shook buildings in the capital of Jakarta but the worst of the property damage was reported in towns closest to the earthquake epicenter. Disaster officials said hundreds of homes and commercial buildings collapsed or were severely damaged. An official at the Social Ministry said that 32 people died, more than 700 houses were badly damaged and about 600 others had suffered moderate damage. Reports said the earthquake destroyed about 20 buildings in Cianjur. Elsewhere, hundreds of houses in Pelabuhan Ratu were reported to have been damaged and at least 10 office buildings were destroyed in the provincial capital of Bandung. Witness also said several houses collapsed in Tasikmalaya, including the mayor’s office, and a mosque was damaged. Property damage was also reported in the city Bandung.
The disaster management agency reported 32 deaths in the districts of Cianjur, Tasikmalaya and Sukabumi. According to reports, about 30 people were trapped in houses buried by the landslide in Rawa Hideung village in Cianjur district. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency warned the death toll could rise, as scores of houses and office buildings had collapsed or suffered severe damage. Moreover, officials said communications with some coastal areas were completely cut, making it difficult to contact some of the affected areas.
Reports said the earthquake was felt over roughly half of Java. Television footage showed swaying buildings in cities as far away as Yogyakarta and Semarang. Residents in the capital of Jakarta also reported buildings shaking, prompting thousands of people to stream onto the streets from office and apartment blocks. The quake was felt as far away as Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, and on the resort island of Bali.
No significant damage to large commercial businesses has been reported so far. Reuters said Indonesia’s main power, oil and gas, steel and mining companies with operations close to the earthquake’s epicenter said they had not been affected and suffered no damage.
Sources: USGS, Reuters News, Associated News, Agence France Presse, BBC News, CNN News
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