A powerful earthquake hit waters off eastern Indonesia early Saturday, sending residents and schoolchildren running into the streets in panic. Authorities said the temblor did not have the potential to trigger a tsunami and there were no reports of serious damage or injuries.
The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.6 quake hit 50 miles (83 kilometres) off Papua province. It was centred just 18 miles (30 kilometres) beneath the ocean floor.
Children in the town of Manokwan, closest to the epicentre, were seen running from their schools screaming. Streets also filled with those escaping shaking houses and stores.
“I ran out of my house with my kids as soon as I felt the tremors,” said Pinta Uli, a mother of two, adding that they saw one street lamp topple to the ground.
The wall in front of a government office also collapsed.
Suharjono, an official with the country’s meteorology and geophysics agency, said that no tsunami warning was issued and that there were no reports of serious damage or injuries. Suharjono, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.
Indonesia, straddling a series of fault lines and volcanoes, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”
A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.