Jakarta. The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, or BMKG, on Wednesday (28/02) warned of the importance of disaster preparation, as a powerful earthquake may strike the Indonesian capital.
Speaking at an event in Jakarta, BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawita called on officials to make concrete prevention efforts and prepare mitigation strategies.
Jakarta Deputy Governor Sandiaga Uno and member of House of Representatives Commission V, which oversees transportation, telecommunications, public works and public housing, Sadarestuwati, also attended the meeting.
"There should be concrete steps such as relevant research, building safety checks and evacuation drills," Dwikorita said.
While there is no certainty when the earthquake may hit Jakarta, Dwikorita said there are strong indications that its magnitude could be between 6 and 8.7 on the Richter scale.
"It's important for Jakarta to prepare and be ready," she said.
On Jan. 23, strong tremors shook the capital when a 6.1 Richter-scale earthquake struck off the coast of Banten in the western part of Java. Eight people were injured and almost 500 houses collapsed in the region.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said earthquake damages in Indonesia are mostly due to poor construction quality and there is an urgent need to to improve standards to avoid casualties in the future.
According to Subarjo, the head of the Association of Meteorology and Geophysics Alumni (Ikamega), scientists have raised concerns over the Sunda megathrust, a fault that runs along the southwestern side of Sumatra to the south of Java and Bali, which can cause an earthquake comparable to the 2004 one that triggered tsunami and killed hundreds of thousands in Aceh and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Authorities have been advised to carry out regular checks on building safety, prepare shelters and ensure that evacuation could run smoothly.
"These measures must be enforced, otherwise people will not follow them … we hope that the officials present here [at Wednesday's meeting] will help in enforcing existing laws and policies to protect the citizens' right to life," Dwikorita said.
While BMKG is conducting a research for more accurate earthquake forecasts, it does not have geomagnetic sensors for precise measurements.
Sandiaga said the provincial government will designate additional funds for BMKG to conduct building safety tests and fix evacuation routes.