JAKARTA—A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Indonesia on Tuesday triggering a tsunami early warning alert, the meteorological department said, but there was no immediate word on any casualties or damage.
The quake struck at 0320 GMT in the Flores Sea, about 112 km (70 miles) northwest of the town of Larantuka, in the eastern part of Flores island, at a depth of 12 km.
“Everyone ran out into the street,” Agustinus Florianus, a resident of Maumere town on Flores, told Reuters. Maumere was badly damaged by a quake of a similar magnitude in 1992.
The tsunami alerts were issued for the areas of Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and Southeast and South Sulawesi. The alerts predicted only small waves of less than half a meter, while early measurements at tidal gauges detected a change of 7 centimeters.
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The U.S. Geological Survey later said the quake had a magnitude of 7.3. An aftershock of 5.6 magnitude hit Larantuka after the first quake, the Indonesian agency said.
“It felt like a wave, up and down,” Zacharias Gentana Keranz, a resident of Larantuka told Reuters.
Alfons Hada Betan, head of East Flores Disaster Mitigation agency in Larantuka said there were no immediate reports of damage and the quake was felt for several minutes as people fled from their homes.
People said on social media the earthquake was also felt strongly in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
The U.S-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that based on preliminary earthquake parameters, there was a possibility for hazardous tsunami waves for coasts located within 1,000 km (621.37 miles) of the earthquake’s epicentre.
Muhamad Sadly, an official with the meteorology agency, told Metro TV that people should stay away from beaches adding that the tsunami warning would be lifted at least two hours after it was issued.
Indonesia straddles the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area of high seismic activity that rests atop multiple tectonic plates.
At least 48 people were killed and hundreds injured when the Mount Semeru volcano erupted on Java island on Dec. 4.
The Epoch Times contributed to this report.