Quake sparks panic but tsunami warning lifted

Updated on May 24, 2007 03:07 PM IST
A strong earthquake rocks east Indonesia on Thursday, causing panic-stricken residents to flee homes and buildings on an island near its epicentre, officials said.
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AFP | By, Jakarta

A strong earthquake rocks east Indonesia on Thursday, causing panic-stricken residents to flee homes and buildings on an island near its epicentre, officials said.

The undersea earthquake struck off Sumbawa, part of an island chain east of Bali, and prompted a brief tsunami warning, but there were no reports of injuries or casualties.
Residents ran into the streets as buildings trembled in villages and towns on Sumbawa, fearful the quake could cause houses to collapse or send debris flying.

"People were screaming and running out of their homes," said Indra, a bank employee in the harbour town of Sape.

There were similar scenes elsewhere on the island after the quake, which had a magnitude at 6.5 according to Indonesian seismologists. The US Geological Survey measured the event at 5.5.

"It was felt strongly and caused people to panic," said Iwan, a journalist based in Sumbawa, who added that he had not seen any damage in the island's main town of Raba.
Burhanuddin Abdullah, who lives near Raba, said his first concern was for his family.
"I immediately shouted to my daughters and wife to run out of the house," he said. "But actually, it was not as strong as an earthquake we had last year."

Initial reports suggested the quake had not caused major damage. A police officer on duty in the Sumbawa town of Dompu said no damage or casualties had been reported there.

The quake struck about 160 kilometres southeast of Raba, at a depth of 19 kilometres under the sea floor, according to the meteorology office in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

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