A powerful earthquake jolted the Indonesian island of Bali on Thursday, injuring 17 people and causing panic as hundreds of tourists fled buildings that shook violently in the tremor.
The 6.0-magnitude quake rocked the main tourist district of Kuta for several minutes, said Endro Tjahjono from the Bali office of Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency.
“There was panic — everyone ran out of the buildings. When we returned to our office building, we saw some cracks on the wall and plaster had come off the walls,” he said.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake’s epicentre was in the ocean south of Bali’s capital Denpasar, but the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no current tsunami warning in effect.
Seventeen people were injured and several hospitals, three schools and two government buildings suffered some damage, said Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
“We received reports that 17 people suffered light injuries from falling roof tiles,” he said.
Hundreds of terrified tourists on Kuta’s beach strip raced from their hotels, officials and hotel staff said.
“It was a chaotic scene. Tourists dashed out of their hotels to the roads screaming ‘Quake! Quake!’,” said Bali Hotels and Restaurant Association secretary general Perry Markus.
The epicentre was measured at 61.3km deep, some 130km south-southwest of Bali’s capital Denpasar, said the US seismologists, who measured its magnitude at 6.0.
Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency measured the undersea quake at 6.8 magnitude and put its depth at just 10km, but said it was unlikely to cause a tsunami.
A reporter said dozens of patients were evacuated from higher floors of one hospital which suffered damage to its roof.
The quake was also felt in neighbouring areas such as Surabaya, Blitar and Malang cities in east Java.
Stephanie Fleming, a Briton who works for a tourism company in the Seminyak area close to Kuta, said her office shook violently for around a minute, sending the workers there running into the street.
“It happened so quickly. Everything was shaking and the doors were banging open and shut. We didn’t really know what to do so we all ran out onto the street,” she said.
“It looked like a wall in our office was about to fall down, but all the structures outside seem more or less intact.”
Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where the meeting of continental plates causes high seismic activity, and is frequently hit by earthquakes.
In October 2010 a powerful earthquake triggered a huge tsunami off the coast of Sumatra that killed at least 300 people. — Reuters