Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA) - Dozens of houses and public facilities were damaged following a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that rattled Sawai, Central Maluku District, Maluku, at 11:42 a.m. local time (UTC +9) on Thursday.

A Sawai government official confirmed the authority was currently accruing information regarding damaged structures.

"We are currently collecting information on damaged buildings for reporting to the Central Maluku Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD)," Sawai government official Ahmad Ipaenin stated from Ambon, Maluku.

Ipaenin noted that the latest incoming information confirmed varying extents of damage to a dozen houses, as some residents informed of cracks developing in the walls of their homes, while others reported houses collapsing due to the tremors.

Apart from residential buildings, damages were also reported to public facilities in Sawai, such as a mosque, primary school building, and building used by a public sanitary organisation, the official noted.

Central Maluku District Head Tuasikal Abua has also been notified regarding structural damages in Sawai region, he added.

The official urged residents to not clear up the structural damages and resultant debris until the BPBD completed its assessment and gave the nod for the cleaning process to commence.

"I have instructed my staff to inform the residents to refrain from clearing up the damaged sections and the debris, as we should wait for BPBD's instruction to prevent any issue during the assessment process," Ipaenin stated.

The national Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency reported that the 5.9-magnitude tectonic earthquake was centred 27 kilometres northeast of Sawai at a depth of 10 kilometres.

Fabio Mukadar, a resident of Sawai, recalled that the earthquake caused distress among residents that fled from their houses within the first second of the tremor. Most residents decided to stay away from their homes after the earthquake, as they were cautious of aftershocks.

"Residents whose houses were damaged decided to stay outside, as they were afraid that if they enter the house, an aftershock would cause their house to collapse while they are inside," Mukadar added.

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Translator: Shariva Alaidrus, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Sri Haryati
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