A woman uses her phone next to a collapsed wall after a 5.1-magnitude earthquake in Jayapura, Indonesia's eastern province of Papua on February 9, 2023 | Photo: AFP
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 U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 5.1 earthquake hit residential areas in 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 were really panicked. I was in a car, and I felt like the car's wheels were lifted up,” said Tri Asih, a resident of Jayapura, Papua's capital.
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 spokesperson Abdul Muhari said at a news conference. "The victims were trapped under the rubble of the cafe and covered by the roof.”
Rescue divers were searching the area around the cafeteria for possible survivors.
Muhari said houses, buildings and medical facilities also were damaged. Some patients at the city's hospital were evacuated to its yard.
A series of strong earthquakes has shaken Papua since January. The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said it has recorded 1,079 earthquakes in Jayapura city and nearby areas since Jan. 2, with 132 of them strong enough to be felt by residents.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago and a home to more than 270 million people, 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 magnitude 5.6 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.