Strong earthquake hits eastern Indonesia; no injuries or damage reported

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strong quake rocks eastern Indonesia; no damage

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Several powerful earthquakes hit eastern Indonesia on Wednesday, triggering a brief tsunami warning and sending panicked residents fleeing from buildings to high ground. There were power blackouts in some areas, but no initial reports of serious damage or casualties.

The largest quake had a magnitude of 7.0 and was centered 18 miles (29 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor off the northern coast of Papua province, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website. It was accompanied by a series of strong aftershocks, the highest measuring 6.4.

Hundreds of people ran out of their homes, said Yan Pieter Yarangga, a resident from the town of Biak. Fearing a tsunami, people fled beaches and some raced for higher ground.

“I ran too, I was afraid there would be a second quake,” said Yarangga.

When the electricity cut, some women and children started screaming in terror, said Sgt. Junaidi, a local police official, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. “Many were crying, they were so afraid of a tsunami … but so far no damage or casualties have been reported.”

The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency registered the temblor at 7.1, and initially said it had the potential to trigger a tsunami, but the warning was later lifted.

Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that make the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity. A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.

The quake that hit Wednesday was located more than 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) from the country’s capital, Jakarta.

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