February 15, 1994, Liwa Earthquake Almost Flatten All Buildings

An earthquake injured more than 2,000 people and destroyed almost all permanent buildings in Liwa.

Swarm earthquake
Illustration. Swarm earthquake in Semangko Bay 2021 ago. (BMKG)

ACTNews, SOUTH JAKARTA – On February 15, 1994, a terrible day occurred in Liwa District, the center of government in West Lampung Regency. A Magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook the area and nearly collapsed all permanent structures.

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) classified the Liwa earthquake as significant and destructive. People in n southern Sumatra, western Java, including Jakarta, and even as far as Singapore felt the tremor.

This earthquake killed 207 people – the other data shows 196 people – due to falling buildings, injured over 2,000 people, and displaced 75,000 people. At least 6,000 houses, businesses, and government structures were destroyed.

Daryono, Coordinator of BMKG Earthquake and Tsunami Mitigation, stated the earthquake destroyed almost all permanent buildings in Liwa. Even the earthquake caused the slopes in Liwa to landslide, closing access roads. According to BMKG, the earthquake's losses will total USD 160 million.

Earthquake cause

The Semangko Fault was the epicenter of the Liwa earthquake. According to the Solok City BPBD, the Semangko Fault is a geological formation that runs from north to south across Sumatra Island, from Aceh to Semangka Bay in Lampung.

The Semangko Fault forms the Barisan Mountains, a series of highlands on Sumatra's western side. The Semangko Fault is still in its early stages and can be seen in the Ngarai Sianok and Anai Valley areas near Bukittinggi City.

In his writings in BPP Technology Magazine Number LXXXVIII/August 98, Heru Sri Naryanto, Manager of the BPPT Disaster Mitigation Technology Program, stated that the area along this fault is weak and earthquake-prone. The Semangko Fault is approximately 1,650 kilometers long and is Indonesia's longest active fault.

"The earthquake occurred as a result of energy being released in certain segments along this fault line," Heru wrote.

Disaster mitigation

In her paper published in the Research and Development Journal of West Lampung Regency, Sitti Aminah, a staff member of the Ministry of Home Affairs' Research and Development Agency, stated that when building a shelter in earthquake-prone areas, local governments must design earthquake-resistant building models as reference materials for the community. The majority of the buildings destroyed in the February 1994 earthquake did not meet earthquake-resistant standards.

She also suggested that the government create a disaster early warning system, set up a protection zone for affected victims, provide regular education and training to the community to respond quickly if a disaster strikes unexpectedly, and map out disaster-prone areas.[]