Strong earthquake hits eastern Indonesia; no tsunami threat

A strong earthquake struck off eastern Indonesia on Wednesday, causing people to flee their homes in panic, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, and authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami.

The magnitude-6.3 was centered 28 kilometers (17 miles) northeast of the Alor island chain in East Nusatenggara province, according to Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency. The U.S. Geological Survey, which also put the magnitude at 6.3, said the quake had a depth of 14 kilometers (9 miles).

"The earthquake shook everything for about 11 seconds, causing people to run from their houses in panic," said Marthen Daud Ndauman, a government official on Alor, the island closest to the quake's epicenter.

He said a lack of telecommunication networks in remote areas were making it difficult to get an immediate report of casualties or damage.

The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the quake did not have the potential to trigger a tsunami.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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