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Magnitude 7.3 quake causes panic in eastern Indonesia

15 July 2019

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake hit the Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia.

A magnitude 7.3 quake hit Laiwui, Indonesia Sunday afternoon, the United States Geological Survey said.

The natural disaster occurred at a depth of 10 km (6 miles) at an area 168 km south-southeast of Ternate, the USGS said. Shallower quakes tend to produce stronger shaking.

TV footage showed people screaming while running out of a shopping mall in Ternate.

Indonesia's meteorology agency (BMKG) recorded the quake at magnitude 7.2 and said it was not in danger of causing a tsunami.

Ikhsan Subur, a local disaster agency official in Labuha, the closest town to the epicentre, said several hundred people who were afraid of aftershocks fled to temporary shelters near government offices and mosques, and some ran to higher ground.

Last week, a 6.9 magnitude quake rocked the northeast shore of Sulawesi, located west of the area impacted on Sunday.

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

He added that there had been "no reports of any injuries or any damage throughout the district", following the tremor.

With a population of around 1 million, North Maluku is one of Indonesia's least populous provinces.

The US agency later downgraded the magnitude of the quake to 5.8.

Indonesia is located on the so-called Ring of Fire, a major area in the Pacific Ocean where about 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur.

The most devastating in recent Indonesian history was on December 26 in 2004, when a magnitude 9.5 quake triggered a massive tsunami that killed around 226,000 people along the shorelines of the Indian Ocean, including more than 126,000 in Indonesia.

The national broadcaster ABC said there were some reports of minor damage from the quake, and no injuries.

Magnitude 7.3 quake causes panic in eastern Indonesia