Powerful Earthquake Rattles Indonesia

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The New York Sun

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A powerful earthquake rattled northeastern Indonesia today, triggering a tsunami alert and sending panicked residents fleeing from their homes, officials said.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 and struck 55 miles beneath the Molucca Sea, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Indonesia’s seismological agency said it had a magnitude of 7.6. The agency immediately issued a tsunami alert over the radio and television.

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Residents at Manado, a city on Sulawesi island about 180 miles from the epicenter, fled their homes as the earth rumbled beneath them.

“We haven’t reported any casualties or damage yet,” the city’s mayor, Jimmy Rimba Rogi, said, adding that people along the coast, well prepared for tsunamis, also ran inland. “But we’re still monitoring.”

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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In December 2004, a massive earthquake off Indonesia’s Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that battered much of the Indian Ocean coastline and killed more than 230,000 people — 131,000 of them in Indonesia’s Aceh province alone.

A tsunami off Java island last year killed nearly 5,000.

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