The Hindu , 20 July 2006

Jakarta jolted; Indonesia for tsunami alert system

SINGAPORE: Jakarta was jolted on Wednesday evening by a 6.2-magnitude undersea earthquake, whose epicentre lay in the Sunda Straits about 200 km from the city.

There were no immediate reports of damage, deaths or injuries. Residents, officials and diplomats told The Hindu that buildings, especially the high-rise structures, were "rattled" for several seconds. And, people scrambled for safer places. The quake itself was estimated to have lasted under one minute.

The fear of a tsunami along the coastlines of Java and Sumatra islands, which lie on either side of the Sunda Straits, receded by nightfall. Earlier in the day, authorities set a timeline of three years to set up a countrywide tsunami warning system in the wake of Monday's disaster that struck another part of the Java coastline. Unofficial estimates showed that at least 525 persons were killed and over 300 injured as a result of the temblor, which measured 7.7 on the Richter Scale, and the tsunami that the quake triggered.

The authorities, heavily criticised for the failure to issue a tsunami warning on Monday, put out a precautionary alert on Wednesday. However, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the United States Geological Survey were reported to have discounted the possibility of a tsunami following the occurrence of the quake at an undersea depth of 40-44 km.

Vice-President Jusuf Kalla told journalists, before Wednesday's quake, that the country, which was the worst-hit in the unprecedented Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, would take three years from now to establish a reliable tsunami alert system that could cover the vast archipelago.

Boats damaged

Xinhua reports: About 2,000 boats of fishermen along the southern coast of Indonesia's Java province were damaged by the Monday tsunami, an official said on Wednesday. Aji Sularso, head of the Data, Statistics and Information Center under the Fisheries Ministry, said the damaged fishing boats averagely measured 10 to 30 gross tonnes. Fishing equipment such as boat engines were also damaged, Mr. Aji said.