Tsunami warning issued after strong quake strikes off East Timor

The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System has issued a tsunami advisory for the region. (USGS pic)

JAKARTA, 27 Mei – A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of East Timor on Friday, the US Geological Survey said.

A tsunami advisory group said the earthquake “may be capable of generating a tsunami affecting the Indian Ocean region”.

USGS said the quake struck at a depth of 51.4km off the eastern tip of Timor Island, which is split between East Timor and Indonesia.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS) issued the tsunami warning for the region.

East Timor sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, causing it to experience frequent earthquakes.

In February, a 6.2-magnitude quake killed a dozen people when it struck neighbouring Indonesia’s North Sumatra.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake hit the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.

East Timor has a population of 1.3 million and is Southeast Asia’s youngest country, recently celebrating the 20th anniversary of its independence.

The former Portuguese colony became independent from Indonesia in 2002 after 24 years of occupation.

Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, a 72-year-old revolutionary hero, became president earlier this month after winning an election.

Ramos-Horta was also the country’s second prime minister after independence.

The mostly rural country’s economy has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the World Bank saying 42% of the population live below the poverty line.