Representative image

(Sadatsugu Tomizawa CC BY-NC-ND 2.0/NASA)

On 2:26 am Friday Indian Standard Time (IST), a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck 38 km off the coast of East-Timor — a Southeast Asian nation located between Indonesia and Australia — according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The earthquake, which struck at a depth of 49 km, is likely to result in tsunamis that will affect the Indian Ocean region. Accordingly, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS) issued the tsunami warning for the region.

The USGS has put out a ‘green alert’, highlighting a low likelihood of casualties and damage due to this event. They mention a 30% chance that the earthquake could result in up to 10 fatalities.

According to The Guardian, the quake was strong enough to be felt in Darwin, Australia as well. However, the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre lists no threat to Australia at the moment.

Moderate quakes were likely felt in Timor-Leste’s city of Lospalos, while Dili —  the country’s capital with a population of around 150,000 — experienced light shaking.

Tremor zones: Outer ring indicates light shaking while middle ring indicates moderate shaking (USGS)

Tremor zones: Outer ring indicates light shaking while the middle ring indicates moderate shaking

(USGS)

The majority of the population in this earthquake-struck region reside in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are non-reinforced brick with concrete floor and precast concrete frame with wall construction.

East Timor has a 13.2 lakh population, and is one of the world’s poorest countries, with almost 40% of its population below the poverty line, according to a UNDP survey. It sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” — a region prone to frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Earlier this month, on May 17, a massive 6.0 magnitude quake was also observed in Indonesia’s western province of Bengkulu, although no tsunami occurred.

The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS) was formed in response to the tragic tsunami that occurred on December 26, 2004, in which over 230,000 lives were lost around the Indian Ocean region.

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