Shortly after 3 p.m. local time on Monday, July 17, 2006, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 exploded beneath the seas south of Java. The epicenter of the initial earthquake was located at a depth of 10 km 215 km NE of Christmas Island and 360 km south of Jakarta.
A series of aftershocks rocked the area in the hours after the initial event. Building in the West Java capital of Bandung and the Indonesian capital of Jakarta reportedly swayed on their foundations from the effect of the inital earthquake although no significant damage or injuries were reported in either city.
More than 900 km west of Bali, the earthquake was not felt by holidaymakers and not tidal effects recorded on the Island's coastlines.
The earthquake and the resulting tidal wave which struck the Pangandaran region of Java's southern coastline is being blamed for more than 300 deaths (count current at 24 hours after the event), hundred of injuries and widespread structural damage in the quake area.
The latest major earthquake to hit Java comes less than 2 months after a devastating earthquake near Yogyakarata and Central Java on May 27, 2006 that claimed more than 6,000 lives; and less than 2 years after the December 26, 2004 North Sumatran earthquake and tidal wave that killed more than 230,000 people in 12 countries.
The tsunami generated by the earthquake created a 6-foot high wall of water that caught shopkeepers and holidaymakers unaware along a 177 km stretch of coastline, including the popular Pangandaran beach resort area south of Bandung. Initial reports suggest the wave washed as far as 300 meters inland in some areas destroying or damaging roads, hotels, homes and local business places.
The death toll is expected to rise further as rescue workers continue to search for victims in the rubble of fallen buildings and the waters along local shorelines. Initial reports indicate that at least 3 foreign visitors Ė Pakistani, Dutch and Swedish nationals - are among the preliminary tally of the dead.
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