Indonesia cancels tsunami alert after strong quake

JAKARTA (AFP) – A strong magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck off Indonesia last Sunday, the United States (US) Geological Survey reported, triggering a brief tsunami warning that sent panicked residents fleeing to higher ground.

The Southeast Asian nation is one of the most disaster-hit on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.

Earthquakes and tsunamis have claimed thousands of lives in recent years.

Last Sunday’s quake struck at a depth of 24 kilometres in the Molucca Sea, 185 kilometres southeast of Manado, between Sulawesi and Malkuku islands, according to the USGS.

Indonesia’s Geophysics Agency issued a tsunami warning for coastal communities nearby, where residents were advised to stay away from the coast.

The warning was later lifted by the agency and there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Residents of Ternate in the Maluku island chain described panic as the quake hit.

“I was getting ready to sleep when the window started rattling,” Budi Nurgianto told AFP.

“It was very strong – I ran from my house and all my neighbours fled too.”

Video footage from Ternate showed scared residents – some clutching children – fleeing from the coast on motorbikes.

Head of the Ternate Disaster Mitigation Agency Hasyim Yusuf said there were no reports of fatalities, but some people were “traumatised” by the tremor.