JAKARTA, Indonesia — Powerful earthquakes struck off the coast of the Indonesian resort island of Lombok near the popular resort island of Bali on Sunday evening, killing at least thee people and triggering a tsunami warning, officials said.
The earthquakes — with magnitudes of 6.8 and 7.0 — struck off Lombok’s north coast and were felt on Bali, just to the west, Indonesia’s national Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said.
Minutes later, in what was most likely an aftershock measuring magnitude 5.6, the same region was jolted again, the agency said.
Television footage showed panicked residents and tourists fleeing to safety on both islands. Indonesian official, Najmul Akhyar, district chief of north Lombok, told MetroTV that at least three people had been killed, according to The Associated Press. He said because of an electrical blackout he was unable to know if there were other casualties.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Board, said in a statement that the two major earthquakes were heavily felt in Mataran, the capital of Lombok Island, prompting residents to flee their homes. They were also felt in Sumbawa Island, to the east of Lombok.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the meteorology agency, said in a televised statement that there were about 12 aftershocks or “smaller earthquakes.”
The United States Geological Survey confirmed the 7.0 quake in a post on Twitter.
The Indonesia agency reported that the first two earthquakes both struck at 6:46 p.m. western Indonesian time. They occurred in the same area that a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck in the early hours of July 29, killing 17 people and injuring more than 160.
That quake sent villagers fleeing into open fields to avoid collapsing buildings.
The agency initially reported that Sunday’s earthquakes did not generate a tsunami, but within minutes put out a warning that a possible tsunami had formed off the north coast of Lombok. It said a tsunami has been detected in the Carik and Badas areas. The tsunami warning was later lifted.
The head of the meteorology agency said there were increased wave levels of 14 centimeters, or 5.5 inches, in the village of Carik, in north Lombok. “We predict the highest wave levels to be only one-half a meter,” she said.
Indonesia straddles the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In January, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck off the southern coast of Java, Indonesia’s main island, rocking buildings in the country’s capital, Jakarta, and sending people fleeing into the streets.
In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, according to The A.P.
Source : Nytimes