On Tuesday, 13th December, at 6.38 pm, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck Bali. The earthquake’s epicenter was located 23km off the coast of Karagansaem Regency, at 8.16 south latitude, 115.62 east longitude.
The earthquake lasted 10 seconds and was strong enough for people in North Bali, especially in communities around Kubu, to run from indoors into open areas as a precaution. The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BBMKG) confirmed that there was no tsunami warning despite the coastal epicenter.
The BBMKG have yet to confirm precisely how many aftershocks the earthquake triggered, stating that there were more than ten. The earthquake was felt by the islands surrounding Bali, including as far as Mataram in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
The earthquake did not trigger mass panic, though communities across Bali are always on standby for an earthquake. One resident from Selumbung Village, Luh Suweca, said, “During the earthquake, I was in the kitchen, and suddenly I felt quite a strong vibration”. She explained that she felt the first earthquake and the aftershock shortly after, noting that the aftershock felt just as strong. She told reporters that there was a risk of her house falling down, and the shock caused many roof tiles to fall.
She said “Yes, it was critical that we shifted a from our position and [the house] almost fell. This is still being repaired by my husband”.
The BBMKG posted an update to social media shortly after the earthquake occurred. People from all around Indonesia shared their love and prayers with anyone impacted by the tremor. Others shared their experience of the earthquake.
One wrote, “I felt it in Bogor but only a little bit, do you guys in Bogor feel it too? Is it just my feeling?”, to which others agreed. Another shared, “I feel it until Mataram + heavy rain, confused where to run”.
Bali is a volcanic island that sits within the ‘Ring of Fire’. Earthquakes are common in Indonesia and residents across the county can share stories of surviving big and small earthquakes. While living in an earthquake zone is normalised, the threat is ever present. Fortunately, there have been no reported injuries from Tuesday’s earthquake.
Although it was a low-impact earthquake, the effects on land and sea are not to be dismissed. Naturally, stronger and closer to the surface earthquakes cause more widespread devastation, but with so many buildings not built to withstand earthquakes, sometimes it is the slightest tremor that can bring a house down or cause a driver to veer off the road.
On Saturday, 3rd December, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Bandung in West Java. The epicenter of the earthquake was far inland, and it did not trigger a tsunami warning. The head of the BNPB, Major-General Suharyanto, said “According to the BMKG, this earthquake was quite deep. Based on the experience of previous earthquakes, with a depth of more than 60 kilometers, moreover, this is above 100 kilometers, it is expected that the impact… won’t be too damaging”. It was later confirmed that one person was hospitalized, and four houses and a school experienced notable damaged.
Just three weeks ago, on 21st November, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake devastated communities in the Cianjur region of West Java. It has now been confirmed that 334 people died and dozens of buildings were destroyed.
The BBMKG has guidelines for earthquake preparedness. These include completing regular evaluations of homes and workplaces to ensure any maintenance is up to date. They also advise that if you find yourself in an earthquake, the following steps:
“If you are inside the building, protect your body and head from falling debris by hiding under tables, etc. Find the safest place from the rubble and shaking. Run outside if you can. If you are outside a building or open area. Avoid [infrastructure] around you such as buildings, electric poles, trees, etc. Pay attention to where you stand. Avoid if there is a crack in the ground.” The full guidance can be found at the BBKMG website.
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