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Strong quake rocks Indonesia's Maluku

The quake prompts the brief issuing of a tsunami alert, says the meteorology and geophysics office in Jakarta.

world Updated: Jan 30, 2008 14:39 IST

A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake rocked the eastern Indonesian province of Maluku on Wednesday, prompting the brief issuing of a tsunami alert, the meteorology and geophysics office said in Jakarta.

The earthquake, which struck at 4:32 pm (0732 GMT) was centered 300 kilometres (185 miles) northeast of the East Timorese capital Dili, some 23 kilometres under the floor of the Banda Sea, the office said in a statement.

A tsunami warning was issued, but lifted about one hour later.

Suharjono, from the geophysics headquarters in Jakarta, told ElShinta radio that the quake had tsunami potential "because it was shallow, at 23 kilometres. The area that should be on alert is around Timor."

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 6.2, at a depth of only 10 kilometres under the sea floor.

Witnesses in Dili told AFP by phone that the quake was not strongly felt there. There were no initial reports of damage or casualties.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where continental plates meet, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

The archipelago nation was hardest hit by the earthquake-triggered Asian tsunami in December 2004. Some 168,000 people alone were killed in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra.