Powerful earthquake rocks parts of eastern Indonesia | News

A strong, shallow earthquake has struck eastern Indonesia, killing at least one person, damaging some houses and causing panicked residents to flee.

Authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami from the quake that struck on Sunday.

Indonesia’s meteorology agency (BMKG) recorded the quake at 7.2 magnitude and said there was no tsunami danger. The United States Geological Survey said the quake was centred 166 kilometres southeast of Ternate, the capital of North Maluku province, at a depth of just 10km. 

Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.

Even though the authorities said there was no risk of a tsunami, many people ran to higher ground, and television footage showed people screaming while running out of a shopping centre in Ternate.

The country’s disaster mitigation agency said a woman in South Halmahera, close to the epicentre, died due to the quake, without giving further details.

Rahmat Triyono, the head of Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami centre, said the quake was felt in other parts of Indonesia including Sulawesi and Papua. 

There were 48 aftershocks in the hours following the quake, the disaster agency said on Twitter on Monday.

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

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

Authorities were assessing the overall impact.

With a population of around one million, North Maluku is one of Indonesia’s less populated areas. 

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

A powerful Indian Ocean earthquake 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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