JAKARTA, Indonesia – A powerful earthquake measuring 5.3 magnitude on the Richter scale struck the Garut and Sukabumi regions of West Java early Thursday morning, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency of Indonesia (BMKG).
The temblor occurred at approximately 5:43 AM local time (WIB) with an epicenter located 94 kilometers southwest of Pangandaran Regency at coordinates 8.18°S, 107.79°E. It originated from a depth of 41 kilometers making it a relatively shallow earthquake.
BMKG head of earthquake and tsunami division described it as an oblique-thrust intraplate quake based on the positioning of the epicenter and hypocenter. He explained that while the earthquake occurred in the crust, the movement suggests a thrust fault.
The quake could be felt strongly in Garut where it registered a shaking intensity of IV on the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. An MMI of IV corresponds to moderate shaking with vibrations felt by most people indoors, as hanging objects sway. Some people are awakened from their sleep.
Residents of Cilacap, Pelabuhan Ratu, Sukabumi, Cianjur and Pangandaran experienced light to moderate tremors rating III on the MMI scale. Meanwhile, Bandung and Bogor shook mildly at MMI II to III scale.
BMKG recorded an aftershock, albeit no tsunami warnings were issued as the earthquake parameters suggested no potential for tsunamis. There were also no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
However, experts analyzing seismic data warn that Indonesia lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire making it prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Shallow earthquakes as experienced Thursday can potentially be more destructive depending on the proximity to population centers.
Citizens are advised to remain vigilant and prepared through earthquake drills and safety measures. Building earthquake-resilient infrastructure is also key to minimizing loss of life and property when the inevitable Big One happens.