Magnitude 7 quake off Indonesia's Sulawesi

Magnitude 7 quake off Indonesia's Sulawesi

Tsunami warning called off, no immediate reports of casualties or major damage

An earthquake of magnitude 7.0 hit North Sulawesi province in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday. (Photo: United States Geological Survey)
An earthquake of magnitude 7.0 hit North Sulawesi province in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday. (Photo: United States Geological Survey)

JAKARTA: An offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck near the Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami warning that was later lifted.

The epicentre of the tremor was located 150 kilometres northwest of the island of Halmahera, at a depth of 48 kilometres, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

The quake occurred around 1.06pm local time off the coast of Sulawesi island, shaking nearby islands and forcing residents to flee in panic.

“The quake was felt around 15-20 seconds. The shakings were quite long,” an AFP journalist on Morotai island in the Maluku archipelago said.

“Some people went outside because they were afraid of buildings collapsing.”

The NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said in its updated warning after the quake that the tsunami threat had passed.

It said earlier tsunami waves could hit coastal areas around 300km from the epicentre.

The quake was also revised down from an initial magnitude of 7.2 reported by the USGS.

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), which gave the magnitude at 7.1, warned of possible aftershocks.

Daryono, the head of the agency’s earthquake and tsunami centre, said the tremor was followed by five aftershocks, the largest with a magnitude of 5.3.

Villagers work to demolish a building that was badly damaged by an earthquake in November, at Gasol village in Cianjur on Dec 17, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Second January quake

Another powerful quake occurred deep under the ocean in eastern Indonesia earlier this month, rattling nearby islands and damaging homes and schools.

The 7.6-magnitude quake caused roofs and walls to collapse in homes on the worst-hit island of Tanimbar Islands in the Maluku archipelago.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

On Nov 21 last year, a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Cianjur in West Java, Indonesia, with 321 people confirmed killed and 595 others seriously injured.

Most of the victims were killed when buildings collapsed or in landslides triggered by the quake.

A 2018 quake and resulting tsunami on Sulawesi killed more than 4,000 people.

A major earthquake off Sumatra on Dec 26, 2004, set off an Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people as far away as Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

That powerful 9.1-magnitude quake triggered 30-metre waves that hit the shore of Banda Aceh on Sumatra.

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