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AKARTA, Indonesia — A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian resort island of Lombok near Bali on Sunday evening, killing at least three people and triggering a tsunami warning, officials said.

The earthquake — initially announced as a magnitude 6.8 then revised to 7.0 — struck off Lombok’s north coast and was felt on Bali, just to the west, Indonesia’s national Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said.

Minutes later, a magnitude-5.6 aftershock jolted the region again, the agency said.

Television footage showed panicked residents and tourists fleeing to safety on both islands. Indonesian official, Najmul Akhyar, district chief of north Lombok, told Metro TV that at least three people had been killed, according to The Associated Press. He said because of an electrical blackout. he was unable to know if there were other casualties.

Iwan Nirwana, a member of a group of jungle and mountain climbers in Lombok who are assisting the search-and-rescue efforts, told Metro TV that the victims included two adults and one child.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Board, said in a statement that the earthquake was heavily felt in Mataran, the capital of Lombok Island, prompting residents to flee their homes. It was also felt in Sumbawa Island, to the east of Lombok.

Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the meteorology agency, said in a televised statement that there were about 12 aftershocks or “smaller earthquakes.”

 

Parked motorbikes crushed by falling debris in Kuta, Bali, following a strong earthquake off the nearby island of Lombok.CreditJohannes Christo/Reuters

The United States Geological Survey confirmed the 7.0 quake in a post on Twitter.

The Indonesia agency reported that the earthquake struck at 6:46 p.m. western Indonesian time. It occurred in the same area that a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck in the early hours of July 29, killing 17 people and injuring more than 160.

That quake sent villagers fleeing into open fields to avoid collapsing buildings.

The agency initially reported that Sunday’s earthquake did not generate a tsunami, but within minutes put out a warning that a possible tsunami had formed off the north coast of Lombok. It said a tsunami has been detected in the Carik and Badas areas. The tsunami warning was later lifted.

The head of the meteorology agency said there were increased wave levels of 14 centimeters, or 5.5 inches, in the village of Carik, in North Lombok. “We predict the highest wave levels to be only one-half a meter,” she said.

Indonesia straddles the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In January, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck off the southern coast of Java, Indonesia’s main island, rocking buildings in the country’s capital, Jakarta, and sending people fleeing into the streets.

In December 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, according to The A.P.

It's been more than two months since magma started erupting from the ground in Kilauea Volcano's Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ), sending channels of flowing lava over entire communities and lakes and even filling in an entire bay. Now scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey's  Hawaiian Volcano Observatory warn this could be just the beginning.

A report produced last week by the USGS for Hawaii County Civil Defense predicts "it is most likely that the LERZ eruption may continue for months to years."

It notes that the constant flow of lava over the past several weeks and lack of any ground deformation suggests there is plenty of pent-up magma underground and pressure to keep the eruption going for some time, with or without breaks in the flow.

"If the ongoing eruption maintains its current style of activity at a high eruption rate, then it may take  months to a year or two to wind down. While this seems to be the most likely outcome, a pause in the  eruption, followed by additional activity, cannot be ruled out, nor can an abrupt cessation or a transition  to steady, longer‐lived activity at a lower effusion rate."

Years of sustained eruption at the current rate would produce a staggering amount of lava.

The USGS report compared the ongoing eruption to other major volcanic events in the area over the past two centuries and finds that the volume of lava flows surfaced since May has already exceeded the combined volume from major eruptions in 1840, 1955 and 1960.

To provide some sense of scale: if the eruption were to continue at the same rate for a total of two years, it could produce about 5 billion cubic meters of lava, which is comparable to the amount of water  unleashed when a dam collapsed in Laos this week, devastating communities there and leaving hundreds missing.

As if that weren't enough to fathom, the USGS says the structure and character of the lava flow appears to be changing, adding to the bad news.

"The change in the character... may signal a gradual change of eruption style and a potentially longer  eruption with more destruction of infrastructure. "

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