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7.2-magnitude earthquake hits eastern Indonesia

NNA - An offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit near eastern Indonesia's Maluku islands on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported, triggering a tsunami warning that was later lifted.

The epicentre of the tremor was located 150 kilometres (93 miles) northwest of the eastern Indonesian island of Halmahera, at a depth of 48 kilometres.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

The quake occurred around 13:06 pm local time (0606 GMT) off the coast of Sulawesi island, shaking nearby islands and forcing residents to flee in panic.

"The quake was felt around 15-20 seconds. The shakings were quite long," an AFP journalist on Morotai island in the Maluku archipelago said.

"Some people went outside because they were afraid of buildings collapsing." 

The NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said in its updated warning after the quake that the tsunami threat had passed.

It said earlier tsunami waves could hit coastal areas around 300 kilometres from the epicentre. 

The quake was also revised down from an initial magnitude of 7.2 reported by the USGS.

Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), which gave the magnitude at 7.1, warned of possible aftershocks.

Daryono, the head of the agency's earthquake and tsunami centre who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said the tremor was followed by five aftershocks, the largest with a magnitude of 5.3.

- Second January quake -
A powerful quake hit deep under the ocean in eastern Indonesia earlier this month, rattling nearby islands and damaging homes and schools.

The 7.6-magnitude quake caused roofs and walls to collapse in homes on the worst-hit island of Tanimbar Islands in the Maluku archipelago.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.

On November 21, a 5.6-magnitude quake hit West Java province on Indonesia's main island of Java, killing 602 people.

Most of the victims were killed when buildings collapsed or in landslides triggered by the quake.

A 2018 quake and resulting tsunami on Sulawesi island killed more than 4,000 people.

A major earthquake off Sumatra on December 26, 2004, set off an Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people as far away as Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

That powerful 9.1-magnitude quake triggered 100-foot waves that hit the shore of Banda Aceh on Sumatra. -----AFP


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