Series of earthquakes in Indonesia’s Papua jolt coastal region

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A strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake jolted a coastal region of Papua in eastern Indonesia Saturday morning and was followed by two weaker aftershocks minutes later, the US Geological Survey said.

The first two quakes -- the second a 5.8-magnitude tremor -- hit at a relatively shallow depth of 15 kilometers, about 272 kilometers (169 miles) from the town of Abepura, according to the USGS.

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A third 5.9-magnitude quake then hit the area at a depth of 32 kilometers.

No casualties or damages were immediately reported by authorities and no tsunami warning accompanied the inland quakes.

But the Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BKMG) warned of moderate shaking and potential light damage.

It also told residents of nearby towns to “watch out for possible aftershocks” in its online advisory.

BKMG earthquake and tsunami coordinator Daryono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP no reports of damage were immediately available from the area.

The official, citing the agency’s modelling, said the quakes were lightly felt by residents in Sarmi, a coastal town of about 11,000 people close to the epicenter, and the neighboring Mamberamo area, home to about 36,000 people.

Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth.

The country experiences frequent earthquakes due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic activity where tectonic plates collide, that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

A 6.2-magnitude quake that shook Sulawesi island in January 2021 killed more than 100 people and left thousands homeless, reducing buildings to a tangled mass of twisted metal and chunks of concrete in the seaside city of Mamuju.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi killed more than 2,200 people with a thousand more declared missing.

On December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck Aceh province, causing a tsunami and killing more than 170,000 people in Indonesia.

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