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Indonesians Flee Homes After Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake Prompts Tsunami Warning

Reports say, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, with monitors briefly warning of the possibility of hazardous tsunami waves before lifting the threat.

The epicentre was north of the island of Flores in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province, where the quake sparked terror after hitting at approximately 03:20 GMT.

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency, known as BMKG earlier reported the magnitude 7.4 earthquake and warned of a “potential tsunami”.

“I was in the field. People ran in panic. I am still… scared,” said Nuraini, a resident of Adonara island in the East Flores regency, Terrified people were shown screaming as they gathered on the street while the earth shook, according to a video obtained by Al Jazeera from Marius Jelamu, a spokesman at the governor’s office of East Nusa Tenggara.

There were also no significant damage or deaths reported from the areas where the quake was felt, even as authorities urged caution. The USGS said the chance of casualties was low while noting that “recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as tsunamis and landslides that might have contributed to losses”.

“Everyone ran out into the street,” Agustinus Florianus, a resident of Maumere town on Flores island, told the Reuters news agency.

Tsunami warnings were issued for the areas of Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and Southeast and South Sulawesi, after the quake hit 112km (69.59 miles) northwest of Larantuka, in the eastern part of Flores, at a depth of 12km (7.4 miles).

According to reports, a magnitude 5.6 aftershock hit Larantuka after the first quake, . Alfons Hada Betan, the head of East Flores Disaster Mitigation agency in Larantuka also said there were no immediate reports of damage and the quake was felt for several minutes as people fled from their homes.

Indonesia experiences frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity where tectonic plates collide that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

Among Indonesia’s string of deadly quakes was a devastating 2004 magnitude 9.1 tremor that struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.

The Boxing Day disaster was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. In 2018, a powerful quake shook the island of Lombok and several more tremors followed over the next couple of weeks, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighbouring Sumbawa.

Later that year, a magnitude 7.5 quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing. On December 4, at least 48 people were killed and hundreds injured when the Mount Semeru volcano erupted on Java island


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