Both tourists and locals in Bali were shocked by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck around 4.30 pm on Monday 22nd August. Though mild earthquakes are common in Bali and the surrounding islands, this earthquake was the strongest the islands have experienced in some time.
According to official data released by the Indonesia Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) the earthquake’s epicenter was at 9.36 south latitude, 115.59 east longitude, or 74 km Southeast of South Kuta with a depth of 124 km from the ocean floor. Their official reading states that the earthquake was 5.8 magnitude, though there have been reports online stating that the earthquake was felt in Bali as 5.5.
The BMKG confirmed that this earthquake had no tsunami potential and that there is no further precautionary action to be taken in Bali, nor on the surrounding islands of the Nusa Islands, nor the Gili Islands and Lombok where the earthquake could also be felt just as strongly. The earthquake was experienced widely across Lombok and residents in Java, Madura, and Sumbawa also felt the impacts of the earthquake too.
There were no reported aftershocks and the earthquake lasted around 10 seconds which is short but significant. In earthquakes between 5-6 on the Richter scale, tremors can often last up to 30 seconds. An earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 can last up to five minutes or more. However, generally speaking, the larger the magnitude the lower the duration. There are thousands of small earthquakes all around the world every day, the majority of which are not even felt by people on the land.
There have been no reported significant injuries and no deaths connected to Monday afternoon’s tremor, though the earthquake did cause some damage to buildings in Kuta. The Twitter-based Indonesian news page BuddyKu Official shared a video from shortly after the earthquake of the inside of a home in Kuta where the roof had sadly fallen in on a local family’s kitchen.
The tremor was felt across the southern coast in tourist hotspots like Kuta and inland towards Denpasar. Head of Protocol and Communications for the Denpasar City Secretariat, I Dewa Gede Rai told the Bali Tribune that he felt the earthquake while he was at his desk. He said ‘I was still working, at first I was small, I just stood up. Then it got bigger and I immediately ran’.
Tourists in the area also felt the earthquake and were frightened by the ordeal. While many people in Indonesia are used to the sensation of an earthquake, experiencing an earthquake for the first time can be frightening and very disorientating. Australian tourists in Bali told news.au that the floorboards in their hotel rooms were warping.
Olivia Kerr from Sydney spoke to reporters shortly after the shake. She said ‘I think I’m in some kind of shock, it’s been about three hours and we still feel as if the ground is unstable, rolling and slanting’. Kerr is in Bali on holiday with her partner Dan, she explained how they were blindsided by the sudden onset of the earthquake.
‘My partner and I were on the lounge relaxing and initially mistook the thunderous noise as a sudden gale force wind…Everything around us was vibrating, the trees bending, I thought I was having a head spin’.
Many people describe the experience of an earthquake as a headspin, sometimes like sudden dizziness before the body realizes the sensation is coming from the outside environment. Others describe how time almost feels like it stops making earthquakes feel much longer than they often are. Kerr describes how she and her fellow tourists had no idea how to react.
She said ‘Our whole living room and the roof was bending, rising, falling and moving side to side around us. Then panic hit us [Australian residents] we had absolutely no idea what to do…It’s a surreal experience, tremors keep coming, the floor moving when we walk, and I’ve never felt so useless and vulnerable in my life. I hope everyone is okay…The locals are even pretty unnerved, saying this is much stronger than anything they’ve felt in a while’.
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