Indonesian office workers flee as quake shakes capital

The relatively shallow quake of magnitude 6 struck off the island of Java, the US Geological Survey said, and authorities ruled out the risk of a tsunami.

Indonesians wait outside an office building after a 6.4 magnitude quake hit Jakarta on 23 January 2018. Picture: AFP

JAKARTA - Office workers fled high-rise buildings in the Indonesian capital on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the city, but there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

The relatively shallow quake of magnitude 6 struck off the island of Java, the US Geological Survey said, and authorities ruled out the risk of a tsunami.

Many people ran along the streets of downtown Jakarta, pointing at the buildings above them, witnesses said. Metro TV showed patients being evacuated from a hospital.

The quake struck 104km west of the city of Sukabumi, at a depth of 33km. Jakarta is about 100km away.

“We felt the earthquake for three to five minutes,” said Rudy Togatorop, 35, who works at the Chilean embassy.

“I was just sitting down, then I felt the building swaying. The emergency stairs were very narrow. I was worried if something would happen.”

Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes in one of the world’s most quake-prone regions. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

In December, a quake of 6.5 magnitude killed at least three people when it hit Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island, at a depth of 92km, and buildings in Jakarta swayed for several seconds. Tuesday’s quake was at a depth of 44km.

The World Bank reckons natural disasters cost Indonesia 0.3% of its GDP annually, but a 2015 report on disaster risk management prepared by Indonesia’s government said a major earthquake, occurring once every 250 years, could cause losses in excess of $30 billion, or 3% of GDP.