(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –A powerful earthquake has hit off the Indonesian coast in the Molucca Sea, creating the risk of tsunami in nearby areas.
The US Geological Survey reported the magnitude-7.1 earthquake, which struck early on Friday morning, was centred in the sea about 140 kilometres (86 miles) northwest of Ternate in North Maluku province.
Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics Agency issued a tsunami warning, urging people to stay away from the coastline.
The earthquake awakened residents in some cities in North Sulawesi and North Maluku provinces, causing some to run out in panic to higher places, Kompas TV reported.
Rahmat Triyono, a senior official at the agency, which put the earthquake’s depth at 73km (45 miles), said the warning was specially issued for the eastern part of North Sulawesi province.
“We issued the tsunami warning with an alert that any tsunami is estimated at only at a height of around 50 centimetres (20 inches),” he said.
Kompas TV also reported that government officials in North Maluku prepared for a possible evacuation of residents. Some patients at a hospital in North Sulawesi’s capital of Manado were evacuated from their rooms.
There were no immediate reports of injury or damage, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 300km (186 miles) of the epicentre. It reported no tsunami risk for more distant areas.