7.6MW earthquake injures many, destroys hundreds of buildings

A powerful earthquake struck the remote Indonesian region of Papua at 19:44 UTC on 3 January. It destroyed hundreds of buildings and caused several deaths. Latest reports say that eight people died. More than 50 required hospital treatment for broken bones, head wounds and other injuries.

The earthquake measured 7.6Mw, and was located around 93 miles (150 kilometres) west-northwest of Manokwari and 106 miles (171 kilometres) east-northeast of Sorong, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS added that the quake was centred about 22 miles (35 kilometres) underground.

The USGS said more than 249,000 people live in areas impacted by a Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) of V or higher.

The initial earthquake triggered a small tsunami that hit the Japanese coast at a height of up to 16 inches (40 centimetres), but no damage was reported, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.

Reports also said seven bridges in Indonesia were damaged or collapsed, and power was cut to the 160,000 residents of Manokwari after power lines were downed. In the town of Sorong at least four houses were flattened and 15 people were injured.

Reports stated that the Hotel Mutiara and Hotel Kalidingin in Manokwari have collapsed. Also, a rice warehouse collapsed. Commercial flights were cancelled after cracks appeared on the runway of Manokwari’s airport. However, a BP-led liquefied natural gas (LNG) project close to the epicentre area was not affected, a company spokesman said, while PetroChina said operations at its Salawati field in Papua were also unaffected, according to Guy Carpenter.