Fri, Aug 10, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Powerful earthquake sends Jakarta residents fleeing


A powerful earthquake rattled Indonesia's capital early yesterday, violently shaking tall buildings and sending panicked residents fleeing into the streets with young children, officials and witnesses said.

The 7.5-magnitude tremor caused no damage and did not trigger a tsunami, probably because of its depth, 290km beneath the Java Sea, geophysicists said.

The quake was centered 110km east of Jakarta and struck just after midnight, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Residents said tall buildings and single-story homes shook violently and water sloshed from swimming pools.

Some people, awoken by the power of the quake, navigated the stairwells of their apartment buildings carrying babies and sleepy children.

Others shouted "Allah Akbar" or "God is great" as they ran outside.

The earthquake could be felt from Indonesia's westernmost island of Sumatra to Bali in the east, local officials said.

It was also felt in parts of Malaysia, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.

Geophysicists almost immediately ruled out the possibility of a tsunami.

The Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake that triggered a massive wave off the coast of Sumatra and killed more than 131,000 in Indonesia's Aceh Province was only 30km deep, according to the USGS.

"The earthquake center in 2004 was close enough that it actually ruptured the surface of the sea floor, which caused a tsunami," said John Bellini, another USGS geophysicist. "This one was felt by people on the ground, and it shook buildings, but it was too deep to cause the ocean bottom to move."

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "ring of fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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