Strong and shallow M6.8 earthquake hits Maluku, Indonesia

Strong and shallow M6.8 earthquake hits Maluku, Indonesia

A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the BMKG as M6.8 hit Seram Island, Maluku, Indonesia at 23:46 UTC on September 25, 2019 (08:46 local time, September 26). The agency is reporting a depth of 18.2 km (11.3 miles). USGS is reporting M6.5 at a depth of 18.2 km (11.3 miles); EMSC M6.6 at a depth of 33 km (20.5 miles). 

The quake was preceded by M4.4 at 11:35 UTC and followed by M5.4 at 00:39 UTC, September 26.

The epicenter was located about 33 km (20 miles) NE of Ambon (population 355 596) and 65 km (40 miles) W of Amahai (population 47 653).

There are 740 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles).

The quake damaged buildings and sent people fleeing to the hills, but the geophysics agency ruled out a tsunami, Reuters reports.

265 000 people are estimated to have felt very strong shaking, 261 000 strong, 234 000 moderate and 321 000 light.

The USGS issued a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Past yellow alerts have required a local or regional level response.

Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Indonesia.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick with concrete floor and precast concrete frame with wall construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

Updates

At least one person has lost its life and two others were injured, after a part of the third floor at an Islamic university collapsed.

17:33 UTC

The death toll has risen to 8. More than 20 others were injured.

More than 8 000 people have fleed their homes.

Local media report damaged university buildings, a hospital, a bridge and other buildings in Maluku province.

Maluku disaster management office said they can confirm 8 casualties, adding that reports from several affected areas have not reached yet.

07:18 UTC, September 27

The death toll has risen to 23 and the number of injured to over 100.

Disaster officials said at least 117 houses and buildings were damaged.  

About 15 000 are being housed in temporary shelters.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM

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