Strong earthquake rattles Indonesia’s Java island; 2 dead

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Motorists are stuck in traffic as they try to reach higher ground amid fears of a tsunami, following an earthquake in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia, on Saturday. (AP)
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People ride on their motorbikes as they try to reach higher ground amid fears of tsunami, following an earthquake in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Strong earthquake rattles Indonesia’s Java island; 2 dead

JAKARTA, Indonesia: A strong earthquake shook Indonesia’s densely populated Java island on Friday night, killing two people and severely damaging dozens of homes near the epicenter.
The magnitude 6.5 quake struck at 11:47 p.m. and was felt across the island, including about 200 kilometers (124 miles) away in the capital Jakarta, where office towers and apartment buildings swayed. Powerful tremors lasted as much as 30 seconds in places.
Panicking people ran out of buildings in many areas and roads were clogged with motorbikes, cars and trucks as people fled coastal areas in fear of a tsunami.
Ahmad Solihin, a food vendor in a coastal area of the Sukabumi region, said his village was jolted by a 20-second tremor that cracked walls in his home. He fled on his motorbike with his wife and two children after neighbors shouted that water was coming, he said.
“People suddenly started running so I joined them,” said Solihin. More than 1,000 villagers in his area evacuated to higher ground and didn’t return until Saturday morning after authorities convinced them it was safe, he said.
A 62-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman were killed in building collapses, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Damage was heaviest in the Tasikmalaya, Pangandaran and Ciamis regions of West Java Province near the epicenter.
More than 40 houses collapsed and about 65 suffered severe damage, said Nugroho.
The earthquake was about 91 kilometers (56 miles) deep and located just inland, the US Geological Survey said. It triggered a tsunami warning for parts of Java’s coastline that was lifted about two hours later. No significant waves were reported.
Several hospitals were damaged by the shaking and patients evacuated.
Indonesia sits on the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.


Japan airlines change ‘Taiwan’ to ‘China Taiwan’ on websites

Updated 13 min 7 sec ago
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Japan airlines change ‘Taiwan’ to ‘China Taiwan’ on websites

TOKYO: Japan’s two largest airlines have changed “Taiwan” to “China Taiwan” on their Chinese-language websites, officials said Tuesday, a move likely to please Beijing but anger the self-ruled island.
The change was made on June 12 and is meant to accommodate customers, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) said.
The description remains “Taiwan” on their websites in Japanese and other languages.
Both carriers said they had not received any protest from Taiwan so far, though Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported Taiwan’s foreign ministry would lodge a complaint with the airlines through Japan’s de-facto diplomatic mission in Taipei.
“We made the judgment (to change the name) while consulting and reporting to the transport ministry and foreign ministry,” a spokesman at Japan Airlines said.
“The change came on June 12 as our preparations were done by then,” he said.
June 12 was the date of the historic summit between North Korea and the United States, which attracted international attention.
“We chose a description that is easy to understand and acceptable for users of our websites,” added the JAL official, who declined to be named.
A spokesman at ANA said the change was intended to make the description “easy to understand and acceptable for customers when they use our websites.”
“We do not mean any particular group of customers here but mean all customers,” he said without elaborating further.
The airlines are not the only international carriers who have made the change recently, with Australia’s Qantas earlier this month defending its decision to list Taiwan as part of China.
The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign airlines in April, asking them to comply with Beijing’s standard of referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.
Japan’s ties with China are improving after years of acrimony over historical and territorial issues.
Japan has close business ties with Taiwan but has acknowledged the “One China” policy, which describes Taiwan as an integral part of China.
Asked about the change, Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo was “not in favor of government authorities demanding certain measures from private companies based on a specific political stance.”
“The government has expressed Japan’s interest in this issue on the Chinese side,” he added.