This photo from Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency, or BNPB, shows a damaged house following an earthquake in Jayapura, Papua province on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. BNPB PHOTO VIA AP

Quake strikes Indonesian province, claims 4 lives

JAKARTA: A shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua on Thursday, killing four people who were unable to escape when a floating restaurant collapsed into the sea.

The United States Geological Survey said the 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit residential areas in the provincial capital Jayapura, near Papua’s northern coast, and was centered at a depth of 22 kilometers (13 miles). Shallow quakes often cause more damage on the Earth’s surface.

“The residents really panicked. I was in a car, and I felt like the car’s wheels were lifted up,” resident Tri Asih said.

Officials said four people who were inside a floating restaurant died when the quake caused it to collapse into the sea.

“The bodies of the four victims have been recovered,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said at a news conference. “The victims were trapped under the rubble of the café and covered by the roof.”

Rescue divers were searching the area around the restaurant for possible survivors.

Muhari said houses, buildings and medical facilities were also damaged. Some patients at the city’s hospital were evacuated to its yard.

A series of strong earthquakes has shaken Papua since January. Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said it had recorded 1,079 earthquakes in Jayapura and nearby areas since Janary 2, with 132 of them strong enough to be felt by residents.

A vast archipelago and home to more than 270 million people, Indonesia is frequently hit by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Basin.

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake on Nov. 21 killed at least 331 people in West Java. It was the deadliest in Indonesia since a 2018 quake and tsunami in Sulawesi killed about 4,340 people.

In 2004, an extremely powerful Indian Ocean quake set off a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

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