A major 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit the remote Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia on Sunday, sending panicked residents running into the streets. No tsunami warning was issued.
The shallow quake struck about 165 kms southwest of the town of Ternate in North Maluku province at 6:28 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.
“The earthquake was quite strong, sending residents to flee outside. They are panicking and many are now waiting on the roadside,” said local disaster mitigation official Mansur.
Officials were assessing the situation but there were no immediate reports of casualties, he told AFP.
In the town of Labuha, one of the closest to the epicentre, panicked residents took to motorcycles in a bid to flee to higher ground, according to an AFP photographer in town when the earthquake hit.
Local disaster official Ihsan Subur told Metro TV that no damage or casualties had been reported there so far, but residents took to the streets and many evacuated to higher ground.
“Electricity went of during the earthquake, but now it’s back to normal,” Subur said, adding that at least seven big aftershocks were felt after the initial quake.
The province was also hit by a 6.9-magnitude tremor last week.