Southern Central Java Quake Panic

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Southern Central Java Quake Panic

A magnitude-7.1 earthquake rocked the southern coast of Central Java in the early hours of Monday causing widespread panic but no reported damage, officials said.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said the quake, centered some 10 kilometers under the ocean floor 293 kilometers southwest of Cilacap, hit at 3:06 a.m.

A tsunami warning was issued, but was lifted about one hour later.

“It has caused panic among the local residents, who were trying to save themselves by running to the nearest higher place,” National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.  

Images broadcast on television stations such as SCTV showed people in the port town of Cilacap pouring out of their homes and congregating in streets, as well as crowding into and around the city’s bus station, which is located on high ground.

According to Agence France-Presse, when the quake struck, residents fled inland to higher ground by vehicle and on foot.

“They were all panicking and shouting ‘quake, quake,’ ” an AFP reporter noted.

State new agency Antara reported that thousands of residents of surrounding Cilacap district, which suffered 147 deaths in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami, also panicked and fled to safety.

“The minute I knew it was an earthquake, I immediately left the house. The more so as the television showed a message that it carried a tsunami risk,” said Kaem, 43, who fled with his wife and three children to higher ground from Bunto village.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo said the temblor was also felt in the neighboring West Java districts of Tasikmalaya, Garut, Ciamis, Sukabumi and Cianjur, but that there were no reports of damage or deaths.

“But as there were no aftershocks following the magnitude 7.1 earthquake, residents then returned to their houses,” he said.

Meanwhile, Doddy Ruswandi, the deputy for emergency operations at the BNPB, said that there had been one death.

“The one death was actually not directly caused by the earthquake, but because he had suffered from a heart attack.”

At least 60 earthquakes of a magnitude higher than 5.0 have struck Indonesia so far this year. 

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