Traumatized residents spend nights in hills following 7.1-magnitude quake in North Maluku

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Kharishar Kahfi

Residents of Batang Dua Island in Ternate, North Maluku, are still traumatized following a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that jolted areas of the province as well as North Sulawesi late on Thursday.

Afraid of spending the night in their homes amid numerous aftershocks, many residents seek safety in nearby hills away from the beach for better sleep.

“When the night comes, they set up tents [on the hill] and sleep there. They resume their normal activities [in towns and at beaches] when the sun rises,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Agus Wibowo said in a statement on Sunday.

He added that the agency had responded to the situation by sending a quick-reaction team to check on residents’ conditions and provide necessary equipment in case of any emergency.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) had recorded 151 aftershocks by 9 a.m. local time on Saturday. Eight of the aftershocks were felt by residents of North Maluku.

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake jolted areas of North Maluku and North Sulawesi on Thursday night. Its epicenter was located about 134 kilometers northwest of Jailolo, North Maluku, at a depth of 73 km.

The BMKG had issued a tsunami warning for the coasts of the two provinces minutes after the main shock. A small tsunami of less than 1 meter were recorded in North Maluku’s Ternate and Jailolo less than 30 minutes after the quake hit the region at 11:17 p.m. Jakarta time.

Authorities lifted the tsunami warning on Friday morning.

The earthquake damaged at least 36 buildings in North Maluku and North Sulawesi, according to the BNPB. Moreover, BNPB records of Saturday show that three people were injured by falling debris from buildings damaged during the earthquake.