Sat, 07 Dec 2019

A strong, shallow earthquake has struck eastern Indonesia, damaging some houses and causing panicked residents to flee to temporary shelters.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, and authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami after Sunday's quake.

The United States Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.3 quake was centred 166 kilometres southeast of Ternate, the capital of North Maluku province, at a depth of just 10 kilometres.

Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.

Despite no threat of a tsunami, many people ran to higher ground, and television footage showed people screaming while running out of a shopping centre in Ternate.

Rahmat Triyono, head of Indonesia's earthquake and tsunami centre, said the quake was followed by several smaller aftershocks. The initial quake and aftershocks were also felt in some parts of North Sulawesi province, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damages there.

Ikhsan Subur, a local disaster agency official in Labuha, the town closest to the quake's epicentre, said several hundred people who were afraid of aftershocks fled to take shelter in government offices and mosques.

He said a police dormitory and several houses of villagers in South Halmahera district, near the epicentre, were damaged.

The disaster agency released photos of some moderately cracked ground and a damaged house of a village police chief in South Halmahera.

No injuries were immediately reported, and authorities were assessing the overall damage.

With a population of around one million, North Maluku is one of Indonesia's least populous provinces.

Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location along the Pacific "Ring of Fire".

A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.

Last week, a magnitude 6.9 undersea earthquake caused panic in parts of eastern Indonesia and triggered a tsunami warning.

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