Undersea quake causes panic in Indonesia

One person was killed and two others injured after a powerful undersea earthquake rocked northern Indonesia, officials said on Monday, as a series of serious aftershocks continued to rattle the area.

“More than 10 aftershocks have been recorded since the initial earthquake, with the strongest, a magnitude six, striking at 3.50am [7.50pm GMT],” said Bayu at the meteorology agency in Jakarta.

The initial, 6,5-magnitude earthquake struck Sulawesi province at 7.27pm local time on Sunday and was centred 160km south-east of the city of Manado, about 50km under the sea, the meteorology agency said.

A police spokesperson in North Sulawesi said one man died of a heart attack in the port town of Bitung east of Manado. Two others were hospitalised after jumping from the second floor of a building in the panic sparked by the quake.

But the spokesperson, Benny Bella, said there had been no significant damage, adding: “Only small cracks on walls and broken window panels were reported.”

The most recent aftershock, with a magnitude of five, struck at 7.06am local time, Bayu said.

Sunday’s major earthquake triggered panic in cities and towns across Northern Sulawesi, with residents fearful of a repeat of the December 2004 quake-triggered Asian tsunami that devastated Indonesia.

People were seen running for higher ground immediately following the quake.

The Indonesian archipelago sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where continental plates meet, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

About 168 000 people were killed in Indonesia’s Aceh province in the 2004 tsunami.—Sapa-AFP

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