At least 20 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded on Thursday as a 6.5 magnitude quake struck off Indonesia’s eastern Maluku province, a senior disaster official said.
The Head of Operation unit of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), of the province, Farida Salampessy, said more than 12,000 people fled their homes as the jolts triggered panic and damaged two university buildings.
Salampessy added that two hospitals, one bridge and over 100 houses were equally damaged in the incident.
“The death toll could rise as the data from some other quake impacted areas have not been ascertained.
“One hospital was seriously damaged by the jolts and could not operate, forcing the authorities to evacuate all the patients, while another hospital was also destroyed.
“Consequently, we have to set up some field health clinics to provide medical treatment to the patients,” she said.
The official said that some other posts were also established to accommodate the needs of the evacuees.
According to her, some communities, afraid of the possibility of tsunami, have evacuated to higher grounds.
“There are some villages where everybody lives in fear of tsunami after the quake, the villages are empty now. they took shelter because their houses were rattled by the tremors.
“Our main focus now is to serve the evacuees, providing logistics, medicine and shelters,” she said.
However, the official said risk assessment of the disaster was ongoing in the province to ascertain the extent of the damage.
According to the secretary of NDMA in Ambon, capital of the province, Eva Tuhumuri. most of the victims were hit by falling blocks of concrete and parts of buildings damaged by landslides, which were triggered by the jolts.
The official in charge at the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, Ali Imron, said the quake rocked at 6:46 a.m. (local time), with the epicenter about 40 km North-East of Ambon and a depth of 10 kilometres.
The official added that an aftershock of 5.6 magnitude followed the main shock at 07:39 a.m. (local time).
Indonesia is vulnerable to earthquakes as it lies on a quake-impacted zone called the “Pacific Ring of Fire“.(Xinhua/NAN)