Powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 hits eastern Indonesia

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Powerful earthquake hits eastern Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A powerful earthquake struck waters off of eastern Indonesia early Thursday, prompting officials to briefly trigger a tsunami warning.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 7.2 magnitude quake off Papua province was centered just 7.6 miles (12.3 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor.

It rattled the town of Tual on nearby Maluku island, said Fauzi, chief of the Indonesian meteorological and geophysics agency, adding that there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The area closest to the epicenter is a remote, sparsely populated part of the country.

Located 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) east of the capital, Jakarta, it is closer to the northern Australian city of Darwin, which sits some 560 miles (900 kilometers) to the south.

Fauzi’s agency lifted a tsunami warning 90 minutes after the temblor struck, saying the threat for destructive waves had passed.

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.

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