Indonesia reports more deaths from Ambon earthquake

Most of the 23 fatalities from Thursday's magnitude 6.5 earthquake were as a result of collapsing houses and buildings.

    With a population of about 1.7 million, Maluku is one of Indonesia's least populous provinces [Izaac Mulyawan/Reuters via Antara]
    With a population of about 1.7 million, Maluku is one of Indonesia's least populous provinces [Izaac Mulyawan/Reuters via Antara]

    The death toll from a strong inland earthquake in eastern Indonesia has climbed to 23 people, disaster officials said Friday.

    The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said most of the victims of Thursday's magnitude 6.5 earthquake in Ambon, the island capital of Maluku province, were killed by collapsing houses and buildings.

    In addition to the dead, the agency said more than 100 people were injured.

    The agency said that at least 117 houses and buildings were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters.

    The Jakarta Post reported on Friday that buildings at Pattimura University, as well as houses of worship and government buildings, were damaged.

    Power interruptions were also reported following the earthquake, although it has been restored in most of the areas on the island as of Friday.

    The airport has also remained open, the state-owned airport operator told Jakarta Post.  

    Television footage showed hundreds of fearful people in Ambon slept outside in tents or in the open air overnight.

    With a population of approximately 1.7 million, Maluku is one of Indonesia's least populous provinces.

    Home to more than 260 million people, Indonesia has frequent seismic activity due to its location along the Pacific "Ring of Fire".

    Last year, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

    Nearly 60,000 people are still living in makeshift accommodation almost a year after the double disaster, the Red Cross said this week.

    In 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies