Strong 7.0 earthquake strikes off Indonesia's Papua; no tsunami warning

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

JAKARTA (AFP) - A powerful magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked remote eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, seismologists said, damaging several buildings and leaving one person missing.

No tsunami warning was issued after the quake, which struck inland in a mountainous, jungle-clad area of Papua province that is sparsely populated.

The tremor hit at 6:41 am (2141 GMT Monday), almost 250 km west of the provincial capital Jayapura at a depth of 52 km, the US Geological Survey said.

“The quake was felt very strongly for four seconds,” said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. “Residents panicked and rushed out of their homes.”

He said that two houses, a hospital and a warehouse in Kasonaweja city suffered minor damage and one person was missing after being swept away by a river.

Rescuers were still trying to reach the area closest to the epicentre, which would take several hours, Nugroho added.

An AFP reporter in Jayapura said weak shaking was felt in the city for a few seconds.

Both Indonesian authorities and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no threat of any tsunami waves from the quake.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

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.