Jakarta offices evacuated as 6.1 magnitude quake jolts city


A 6.1 magnitude earthquake rattled Indonesia’s Java island, forcing evacuation of office and residential buildings in Jakarta and its suburbs.

The epicenter of the quake was near Lebak in Banten province at a depth of about 60 kilometers, according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. There were no reports of any loss of lives from the impact of the quake, which initially measured 6.4 on the Richter scale, the agency said. The temblor was relatively shallow and triggered no aftershocks, it said.

Hundreds of buildings were damaged in western Java, most of them homes and health clinics, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency known as BNPB. Six high school students sustained major injuries in a roof collapse in Cianjur, West Java, while two others have minor injuries, he said.

“The numbers are likely to increase as there are more damaged buildings,” he said in a statement. “We call on the public to remain calm and not to fall prey to misleading rumors that larger aftershocks are about to happen.”

Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are especially prone to earthquakes because the country straddles the Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines and volcanoes that causes frequent seismic upheavals. Waves unleashed in 2004 by the undersea earthquake off the Sumatran coast caused the deadliest natural disaster this century, taking more than 220,000 lives and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless.

Immediate Evacuation

“We were immediately evacuated once the earthquake happened,” said Josua Pardede, chief economist at Bank Permata, who worked at the 28th floor of a building in Jakarta’s main Sudirman business district.

The impact of the midday quake was also felt in Bogor, Bandung, and several cities in central Java and Sumatra, the agency said. Trading at the Indonesia Stock Exchange was unaffected by the temblor, Rheza Andhika, a spokesman said in a text message. The benchmark Jakarta Composite Index jumped 2.1 percent to a record closing high of 6,635.334.