M7.6 earthquake hits Indonesia

A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck deep beneath the ocean off Indonesia and East Timor early Tuesday, the US Geological Survey reported.

The epicenter of the quake was 427 kilometers south of the Indonesian island of Ambon at a depth of 95 kilometers, the USGS said.

The Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) reported some aftershocks with a magnitude of 5.5.

The agency said the tremors were being felt on the islands of Timor, Maluku Archipelago and Papua. But there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

“I was in bed, then I felt a slight tremor. I woke up and found that many of my friends felt it too,” Hamdi, an Indonesian from Ambon, told AFP.

An unidentified resident in Dili, the capital of East Timor, reported “very strong, prolonged shaking” in a remark on the website of the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC), a non-profit monitoring center.

The tremor sent light poles swaying and residents running out of buildings and onto streets in Tual, a port in the Maluku Archipelago, videos posted by users on Twitter showed.

The Indonesian geophysics authority first warned of a possible tsunami and then lifted the warning.

The tremor was felt as far away as Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, where at least 1,000 people reported it to the Australian Geosciences Agency.

“Continued violent shaking here in #Darwin right now from what appears to be quite a severe #earthquake in our north,” tweeted user @OreboundImages.

“Could hear the earth rumble,” another Darwin resident posted on the EMSC website.

“Was huge! It went on forever, the whole house really shook,” noted another Darwin resident.

A video posted by Twitter users in Darwin showed water in glasses and jugs sloshing from side to side.

Indonesia is subject to frequent seismic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide.

On November 21, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck the populous West Java province on the main island of Java, killing 602 people.

A major earthquake off Sumatra on December 26, 2004 triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed more than 230,000 people as far away as Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

This powerful 9.1 magnitude tremor unleashed 100-foot waves that hit the coast of Banda Aceh in Sumatra.

© 2023 AFP

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