Powerful quake rocks eastern Indonesia

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The Independent Online

A powerful earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia today, sending people fleeing into the streets from swaying homes, offices and hospitals, authorities and witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake, which had a magnitude of 6.9, triggered a tsunami warning but the alert was quickly lifted after it became clear no destructive waves had been generated, the country's geophysics agency said.

In the city of Manado, people fled from markets, hospitals and schools, witnesses said.

One woman ran from the second floor of a hospital carrying her son who had an IV drip in his arm, an Associated Press reporter said.

"What's going on? What's going on?", she screamed before being calmed by other people.

The quake struck under the Maluku Sea at a depth of 20 miles, the US geological survey said on its website. Its epicentre was more than 130 miles north of Ternate island.

"We felt a strong tremor for almost a minute, people ran in panic from buildings," said George Rajaloa, a resident in Ternate city. "Children are crying and their mothers are screaming, but there is no damage in my area."

The US Geological Survey initially put the quake at 7.0 magnitude, but later lowered it to 6.9.

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.

A massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on 26 December, 2004, killed more than 131,000 people in Indonesia's Aceh province and left half a million homeless. Just over a year ago, another quake-generated tsunami killed around 600 people on Java island.