7.3-magnitude quake in Indonesia, tsunami warning issued

7.3-magnitude quake in Indonesia, tsunami warning issued

JAKARTA - A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the Maluku Islands in eastern Indonesia Saturday, sparking a tsunami warning for areas up to 300 kilometres (185 miles) away.

The undersea quake struck at a depth of 46 kilometres (28 miles) at 10:31 am (0231 GMT), northwest of Kota Ternate, the US Geological Survey said.

"Tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 kilometres," said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The centre said tsunami waves could hit parts of Indonesia, as well the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan and islands in the South Pacific.

Tsunami waves between 30 centimetres (12 inches) and one metre could hit parts of Indonesia, said the centre, while waves below 30 centimetres were forecast for the coasts of the Philippines, the centre said.

"We have issued an early tsunami warning," an official from Indonesia's meteorological agency told AFP.

Julius Galgiano, Philippine government seismologist, said the Philippines had also issued a tsunami warning.

"We are telling (local communities) to have a tsunami watch in areas along the coast," he said. But added that no evacuation orders had been issued and the tsunami waves were not expected to be high.

There were no immediate reports of any damage caused by the quake itself or any casualties.

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

A huge undersea quake in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed more than 170,000 people in Aceh province, on western Sumatra island, and tens of thousands more in other countries with coasts on the Indian Ocean.

A 6.1-magnitude quake that hit inland in Aceh in July last year left at least 30 people dead and thousands homeless.

It caused a mosque to collapse in one village, killing six children as they took part in a Quran reading session.

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