Four killed by magnitude 5.4 earthquake in Indonesia’s Papua

At least four people have been killed and buildings damaged by an earthquake of magnitude 5.4 which struck the north coast of Papua, Indonesia, toppling a waterfront cafe and trapping people inside, officials said.

The earthquake hit at 1.28pm local time (06:28 GMT) on Thursday, southwest of Jayapura city at a depth of 10km, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) said.

“A cafe collapsed and four people died there. It fell into the sea,” Asep Khalid, head of the Jayapura disaster mitigation agency, said in a press statement.

Residents in Jayapura said people scrambled for safety, running from houses and shops when the earthquake struck. Images on social media showed damaged buildings in the area and what appeared to be a submerged building which had sunk in coastal water up to its roof.

The meteorological agency warned of potential aftershocks.

“I was having lunch when things suddenly swayed, the jolt got much stronger,” said Putri Kurita, 30, who ran for the exit at another restaurant fearing it would collapse, too.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) recorded the earthquake at a magnitude of 5.5.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.

Thursday’s earthquake was one of more than a thousand recorded in the area since January this year, according to BMKG.

“Since Jan 2, 2023, there have been 1,079 quakes around Jayapura, with about 132 felt by its residents,” said BMKG chief, Dwikorita Karnawati.

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