1989 West Papua earthquake

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1989 West Papua earthquake
1989 West Papua earthquake is located in Papua
1989 West Papua earthquake
Date August 1, 1989 (1989-08-01)
Origin time 23:17 UTC
9:17 AEST
Duration 3 minutes
Magnitude 6.0 Mw
Epicenter 4°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 affected Indonesia
Casualties 120 dead
120 injured

The 1989 West Papua earthquake struck West Papua, Indonesia – then Irian Jaya province – on August 1.

Details and relief[edit]

The West Papua earthquake struck at 9:17 local time[2] and measured Ms 5.7[3] and 6.0 on the Richter scale.[4] Its epicenter was located 299 km (186 mi) south of Jayapura;[5] the earthquake reached as far as Wamena.[3] It lasted for roughly three minutes and caused multiple aftershocks.[5]

The earthquake killed 120 people and left 120 injured;[3] all of the dead were recovered from the villages of Holuon, Pasema, and Soba.[2] Many of these deaths and injuries derived from landslides that covered two villages and disrupted sections of the Baliem River, practically flooding three villages[6] and depositing tons of mud.[2] One of these landslides was 200 m (660 ft) tall;[6] there were eleven in total.[7] A large portion of the dead consisted of Dhani tribesmen.[5]

Local authorities distributed food, blankets, clothing, and money to survivors. Helicopters supplied food and other relief supplies,[5] 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.[2] 200-300 people were evacuated in the aftermath of the tremor,[6][2] and following the earthquake 3,500 Hupla people were resettled at a lower altitude, thus moving them from their traditional settlements.[8]


The focal mechanism for the earthquake demonstrated reverse faulting.[3]

The region around the epicenter has a history of powerful earthquakes. Between two earthquakes in 1976 and 1981, 1000 people died.[5] There have been large earthquakes in the region as recently as 2009[9] and 2010.[10]


  1. ^ "Significant earthquake". National Geophysical Data Center. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Indonesian quake kills 90". The Hour. August 2, 1989. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Significant Earthquakes of the World: 1989". United States Geological Survey. January 5, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Today in Earthquake History: August 1". United States Geological Survey. October 2, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Indonesian quake death toll rises". Lodi News-Sentinel. August 3, 1989. 
  6. ^ a b c "Indonesia: Earthquake Aug 1989 UNDRO Information Report 1". ReliefWeb. August 4, 1989. Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Death Toll Rises to 97 in Indonesia Quake". Los Angeles Times. August 5, 1989. 
  8. ^ Tapol, pg. 22.
  9. ^ "Indonesia earthquake kills at least 2, injures 35". CNN. January 4, 2009. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ "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.