Strong Earthquake Shakes Indonesia’s Timor Region

A villager looks at his damaged house at Ndelikan village in Wonogiri regency on July 1, 2023, a day after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit the area. (AFP/File)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 struck Indonesia’s Timor island on Thursday, causing panic and light damages to several buildings and houses but there no immediate reports of casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake had a depth of 36.1 kilometers and its epicenter was located 21 kilometers north-northeast of Kupang, the capital city of East Nusa Tenggara province.

Daryono, who heads the Earthquake and Tsunami Center at Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency, said the land-based quake was causing panic as it was strongly felt in several cities and villages.

The agency measured a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 for the quake and then revised it to 6.3. Variations in early measurements of quakes are common. The USGS reported that the quake had a magnitude of 6.1.

“The quake has caused light damages in several buildings and houses,” wrote Daryono, who goes by a single name, on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, adding there was no danger of a tsunami.

Video circulating on social media showed residents in Kupang panicking as houses and buildings swayed just after dawn. Some witnesses said ceilings at the governor’s and mayor’s offices were damaged.

Indonesia is a seismically active archipelago of 270 million people that is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin known as the “Ring of Fire.”

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake last year killed at least 602 people in West Java’s Cianjur city, It was the deadliest in Indonesia since a 2018 quake and tsunami in Sulawesi killed more than 4,300 people.

In 2004, an extremely powerful Indian Ocean quake set off a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia’s Aceh province.