A powerful earthquake rocked parts of Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island on Monday, damaging houses and triggering widespread — but unfounded — fears of another tsunami in a country still traumatized by last month’s disaster.
One person was killed and another injured, police said.
“We have reports of one dead and one seriously injured from the West Donggala district. In Palu, several shops have been damaged,” police commissioner Victor Batara told Reuters from the Central Sulawesi’s provincial capital of Palu, 970 miles northeast of Jakarta.
The epicenter of the 6.2-magnitude quake was in central Sulawesi, about 10 miles southwest of Palu, said Suharjono, a seismologist in Jakarta. It struck just before dawn.
“It was very strong. I felt the bed and the ground shaking and rushed out of my house. I saw everyone panicking,” said Huwal Hayun, a 19-year-old student in Palu. Around 30 houses and shops in Palu, which is home to some 270,000 people, suffered minor damage, police said.
The temblor occurred a month after a massive earthquake shook the island of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 160,000 people in 11 countries. Sumatra is thousands of miles west of Sulawesi.
Tsunami fears rekindled
Thousands of residents in Palu ran to higher ground following the quake, witnesses and police said. Most of the patients at the city’s main Undata hospital fled the building, said Dr Riri Lamadjido.
“They were shouting water, water because they feared waves after watching so many news reports about the tsunami,” she said, adding that the hospital had received no injured patients as a result of the quake.
Police later toured the city in a car with a loudspeaker on top, telling residents there was no threat of a tsunami, said Sgt. Fandi Tuna. Some then returned to their homes, he said.
It was highly unlikely the quake would cause a tsunami because its epicenter was not under the seabed, said seismologist Suharjono, who goes by a single name. Quakes measuring 6.2 rarely cause tsunami even if centered under the ocean.
Palu is 1,000 miles northeast of the capital, Jakarta.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” — volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches partly encircling the Pacific Ocean basin.