1989 West Papua earthquake

The 1989 West Papua earthquake struck Papua, Indonesia – then Irian Jaya province – on August 1 with a moment magnitude of 6.0 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). Around 120 people were killed, mainly due to landslides and mudslides.

1989 West Papua earthquake
1989 West Papua earthquake is located in Papua (province)
1989 West Papua earthquake
UTC time1989-08-01 00:18:04
ISC event393850
Local dateAugust 1, 1989 (1989-08-01)
Local time9:18 WITA
Magnitude6.0 Mw
Epicenter4°30′40″S 139°01′19″E / 4.511°S 139.022°E / -4.511; 139.022Coordinates: 4°30′40″S 139°01′19″E / 4.511°S 139.022°E / -4.511; 139.022[1]
Areas affectedIndonesia
Max. intensityVIII (Severe) [2]
Casualties120 dead
120 injured

Details and reliefEdit

The West Papua earthquake struck at 9:17 local time[3] and measured Ms 5.7[4] and 6.0 on the moment magnitude scale.[5] Its epicenter was located 299 km (186 mi) south of Jayapura;[6] the earthquake reached as far as Wamena.[4] There were multiple aftershocks.[6]

The earthquake killed 120 people and left 120 injured;[4] all of the dead were recovered from the villages of Holuon, Pasema, and Soba.[3] Many of these deaths and injuries derived from landslides that covered two villages and disrupted sections of the Baliem River, practically flooding three villages[7] and depositing tons of mud.[3] One of these landslides was 200 m (660 ft) tall;[7] there were eleven in total.[8] A large portion of the dead consisted of Dhani tribesmen.[6]

Local authorities distributed food, blankets, clothing, and money to survivors. Helicopters supplied food and other relief supplies,[6] but they were slowed by cracks in the local airstrips. More than 25 survivors were treated for severe injuries and another 100 for less grave maladies.[3] Between 200 and 300 people were evacuated in the aftermath of the tremor,[3][7] and 3,500 Hupla people were resettled at a lower altitude, thus moving them from their traditional settlements.[9]


The focal mechanism for the earthquake demonstrated reverse faulting.[4] The region around the epicenter has a history of powerful earthquakes. Between two earthquakes in 1976 and 1981, 1000 people died.[6] There have been large earthquakes in the region as recently as 2009[10] and 2010.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Significant earthquake". National Geophysical Data Center. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  2. ^ USGS (December 1, 2008), EXPO-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2007-12, United States Geological Survey
  3. ^ a b c d e "Indonesian quake kills 90". The Hour. August 2, 1989.
  4. ^ a b c d "Significant Earthquakes of the World: 1989". United States Geological Survey. January 5, 2010. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  5. ^ "Today in Earthquake History: August 1". United States Geological Survey. October 2, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Indonesian quake death toll rises". Lodi News-Sentinel. August 3, 1989.
  7. ^ a b c "Indonesia: Earthquake Aug 1989 UNDRO Information Report 1". ReliefWeb. August 4, 1989. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  8. ^ "Death Toll Rises to 97 in Indonesia Quake". Los Angeles Times. August 5, 1989.
  9. ^ Tapol, pg. 22.
  10. ^ "Indonesia earthquake kills at least 2, injures 35". CNN. January 4, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  11. ^ "Indonesian earthquake death toll climbs to 17". CNN. June 21, 2010. Retrieved August 2, 2013.


  • Tapol Bulletin. Tapol, the British Campaign for the Release of Indonesian Political Prisoners (109–120). 1992.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)

External linksEdit