A 7.1 magnitude earthquake has struck northeast of Bali, sending tourists and residents out of buildings. According to the Australian geoscientific research agency, Geoscience Australia, two distinct earthquakes with close by epicentres formed in the Java Sea, around 3:55 am local time (8:55 pm Brussels time).
Estimates for the magnitude vary from 7.0 to 7.4 depending on the measuring agency, variations being common in early measurements, however most geological agencies agree on 7.1. Geoscience Australia estimated one earthquake at 7.0 and the other at 6.1, the epicentres being somewhere between 513 and 516 kilometres below Earth’s surface, in the Java Sea, 203 kilometres north of Mataram and 181 kilometres northeast of Gili Air, a tiny island near the coast of Lombok Island, next to Bali.
The earthquakes were followed by two replicas of 6.1 and 6.5 magnitude, according to the Indonesian Geological Agency, or 5.4 and 5.6 magnitude, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Tourists at hotels reported waking up in the middle of the night to their rooms shaking for “a good minute or two”. “That was bloody scary, hotel was shaking for a good minute or two…need a Bintang!”, one man wrote on social media. “Our villa in Seminyak was shaking for around two minutes. Really frightening”, another wrote.
Some hotels evacuated guests pre-emptively, fearing a tsunami would form following the quakes, with staff monitoring the coast for signs. Soon after, the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency ensured there was no risk of tsunami. Additionally, the Indonesian disaster agency, BNPB, reported no immediate damage, stating the epicentre was too deep to be destructive.
Indonesia is frequently struck by earthquakes and tsunamis, as it is positioned on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire, a series of volcanoes and fault lines causing frequent eruptions, intensified seismic activity and tsunamis. In 2018, an earthquake followed by a tsunami claimed around 4,340 lives in the Sulawesi Island, the country’s deadliest incident to date.