SORONG (Indonesia) • A powerful earthquake in remote eastern Indonesia yesterday injured more than 60 people, left hundreds of houses damaged and rattled an idyllic island chain popular with foreign tourists and divers.
People were woken up and ran screaming out of their homes when the 6.6-magnitude undersea quake struck in the Papua region at about 1am (midnight Singapore time), not far from the coastal city of Sorong.
Seventeen people were so far known to have sustained serious injuries and 45 to have suffered minor injuries, while 200 houses were damaged, said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
No deaths have so far been reported. The quake also caused blackouts in Sorong and patients were evacuated from a hospital.
"We are still collecting data, and we expect the number of victims and damage to increase," Mr Sutopo said in a statement.
The quake was also felt strongly in Raja Ampat, north-west of the epicentre, an archipelago popular with tourists and divers due to its palm-fringed islands that are surrounded by an underwater kaleidoscope of coral and fish.
Waisai Beach Hotel receptionist Yona Niki said staff and four guests staying at the hotel on Waigeo island ran outside when the quake hit and waited until the intense shaking had stopped. The manager of another hotel said the quake left cracks in the walls. The US Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 6.6 and said its epicentre was at a depth of 24km.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. In July, a teenage boy fell into a river and died and several buildings were damaged when a 7.0-magnitude quake rocked Papua.
A huge undersea quake in 2004 triggered a tsunami that engulfed Aceh province on western Sumatra island, killing more than 170,000 people in Indonesia and tens of thousands more in other countries with coasts on the Indian Ocean.