Quake rattles Indonesia

JAKARTA - A powerful undersea earthquake and a series of aftershocks rattled eastern Indonesia yesterday, damaging buildings in one town and causing panicked residents to flee their homes.

JAKARTA - A powerful undersea earthquake and a series of aftershocks rattled eastern Indonesia yesterday, damaging buildings in one town and causing panicked residents to flee their homes.

The tremor, with a preliminary magnitude of 6,3 on the Richter scale, struck in the Maluku Sea, 215km from Ternate, the main city on Maluku island, and 2355km from the capital Jakarta.

Hendrik Leopatty, an official with the Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysics Agency, said the quake lasted about six seconds and was followed by at least one aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 5,6.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The local meteorological and geological agency said a tsunami was not expected.

Power supplies were cut for about two hours in Labuha, the closest coastal town to the epicentre, and several houses sustained cracks. but there were no reports of injuries.

Residents fled to the hills fearing a tsunami would hit, but returned later.

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. - Sapa-AP

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