Friday, August 10, 2007

Java earthquake rattles Jakarta, shut down Pertamina plant to restart

Indonesia's PT Pertamina will restart its Balongan oil refinery, which supplies most of Jakarta's fuel needs, today. The Balongan refinery, situated in Indramayu, has a history of causing economically and environmentally catastrophic pollution (WALHI).

More quake news from an Indonesian news source:

Aftershocks from the magnitude 7 earthquake that rattled Java early Thursday had a small chance of creating serious damage, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) said.

"Because of its depth, there is a low potential for massive damage (caused by) an aftershock," BMG earthquake division head Suhardjono told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

The epicenter of the quake was 280 to 300 kilometers under the seabed 75 km northwest of Indramayu, West Java.

The earthquake was triggered by friction between the Eurasian and Indo-Australian tectonic plates.

The quake caused panic among residents in Indramayu while fishermen in neighboring Cirebon abandoned fishing and returned to shore.

Hotel guests at the Savoy Homann Bidakara hotel in Bandung, West Java, rushed outside during the quake, some wearing only shorts and towels, a hotel manager said.

The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center in Bandung said the quake did not trigger volcanic activity at Mount Ciremai in Kuningan regency or Mount Papandayan in Garut regency.

In Yogyakarta, many residents still traumatized by the May 2006 quake that killed 5,600 people were reluctant to return to their houses. Many were only convinced to return inside after the local BMG office announced it was safe an hour later.

In Jakarta, the disaster coordinating task force said it had not received any reports of damaged building or injuries.

"Our units at the regional level will take safety measures as quickly as possible if another earthquake happens," task force chief Bobby Aryono said.

A resident from North Jakarta's Jembatan Tiga subdistrict, Meuthia, 17, said she barely noticed the earthquake.

"I felt a little shake at the time, but I wasn't aware it was an earthquake," said Meuthia, whose was staying with a relative after her house under the Jembatan Tiga turnpike was razed by fire Tuesday.

Resident Hioe Tjhin Thoang from Pluit, North Jakarta, said he was not convinced it was an earthquake until he saw a light fixture in his living room trembling.

"My wife told me to get out of bed quickly because she felt the earthquake," he said.

Despite the disaster office receiving no reports, several buildings in Jakarta reported damage in the quake.

Two workers at the construction site of Kelapa Gading Square mall in North Jakarta were killed later Thursday after steel scaffolding shifted by the quake gave way beneath them. Both workers fell to the fifth floor, one from the 31st story and the other from the 16th story, news portal reported.

Non-governmental organizations Rapid Response, the Disaster Management Institute of Indonesia, the Indonesian Volunteer Society, the Corporate Circle for Disaster Interest and the Indonesian Natural Disaster Mitigation Society have already planned free training session on safety steps people can take when an earthquake occurs.

Nana Rukmana, Yuli Tri Suwarni and Slamet Susanto contributed to this story.

[Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo and Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta]



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