7.4-magnitude quake rattles eastern Indonesia

Villagers stand outside a building in Flores island after the earthquake struck off the coast in eastern Indonesia, on Dec 14, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (REUTERS, AFP) - A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Indonesia on Tuesday (Dec 14), triggering a tsunami warning and sending residents fleeing from their homes but causing only minor damage and injuring one person, authorities said. 

The tsunami warning was lifted about two hours after the quake struck at 0320 GMT (11.20am Singapore time) in the Flores Sea, about 112km north-west of the town of Larantuka, in the eastern part of Flores island. 

"Everyone ran out into the street," Mr Agustinus Florianus, a resident of Maumere town on Flores, told Reuters.

Maumere was badly damaged by a quake of a similar magnitude in 1992. 

Tsunami warnings were issued for the areas of Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and South-east and South Sulawesi. 

The US Geological Survey said the quake, had a magnitude of 7.3. It struck at the shallow depth of 12km. 

"It felt like a wave, up and down," Mr Zacharias Gentana Keranz, a resident of Larantuka told Reuters. 

The disaster mitigation agency said one person was injured in Manggarai, on Flores, and a school building and several homes were damaged on Selayar island, in South Sulawesi. 

The quake, from an active fault in the Flores Sea, was followed by at least 15 aftershocks with the biggest registering magnitude 5.6, the meteorological agency said. 

But the quake caused no significant increase in sea levels. 

The US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre had earlier warned that based on preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts located within 1,000km of the earthquake’s epicentre. 

Indonesia experiences frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity where tectonic plates collide that stretches from Japan through South-east Asia and across the Pacific basin.

Among Indonesia's string of deadly quakes was a devastating 2004 9.1-magnitude tremor that struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.

The Boxing Day disaster was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

In 2018, a powerful quake shook the island of Lombok and several more tremors followed over the next couple of weeks, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighbouring Sumbawa.

Later that year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

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