Undersea earthquake rattles Indonesia

/ Source: The Associated Press

A powerful undersea earthquake and a series of aftershocks rattled eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, damaging buildings in one town and causing panicked residents to flee their homes.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the magnitude 6.0 quake. The local meteorological and geological agency said no tsunami was expected.

Power supplies were cut for about two hours in Labuha, the closest coastal town to the epicenter, said Hendrik Leopatty, an official with the Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysics Agency.

Witnesses said several houses sustained cracks but there were no report of injuries. Labuha residents fled to the hills fearing a tsunami but later returned.

The tremor struck in the Maluku Sea, 135 miles from Ternate, the main city on Maluku island and 1,460 miles from the capital, Jakarta.

Leopatty said the quake lasted around six seconds. It was followed by at least three aftershocks, the USGS said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, 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.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.