JAKARTA, Indonesia – The powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake that rocked the Maluku Islands in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, November 15, caused a small tsunami and panic among residents but no major damage.
The Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) said they monitored a 9-centimeter wave at Jailolo on Halmahera island, in the Maluku Islands. Tiny waves were also detected in Tobelo on Halmahera, and in Manado.
But local authorities said there were no reports of casualties or major damage and the tsunami warning was lifted after a short while.
Nevertheless, the prospect of a major tsunami set nerves on edge in one of the most seismically active countries in the world, almost a decade after quake-triggered destructive waves devastated western Aceh province.
On the tiny Sangihe Islands close to the epicenter in Indonesia, people ran out of their homes when the quake hit, Toni Supit, head of the islands’ Sitaro district, told Agence France-Presse.
“People in coastal areas felt the strong quake, which lasted for quite some time, and they immediately went to the sea to see if the water was receding abnormally, which is a sign of an incoming tsunami,” he said.
In the city of Manado on nearby Sulawesi island, local media reported people rushing out of their homes screaming, “God help, God help!”
An agency official on Sulawesi said early reports indicated that cracks had appeared in the walls of some houses after the quake, although full damage reports had yet to be come in.
But locals tweeted images of a damaged hotel in Manado.
akibat gempa tdi bngunan hotel lion manado ambruk x_x pic.twitter.com/bCSb0C380X— Mercy luasunaung (@Mercydianinsi) November 15, 2014
akibat gempa di kota Manado pagi INI hotel lion Manado mengalami kerusakan @RadioElshinta @detikcom foto by my sista pic.twitter.com/spCxiqvSu4— reflylimasatu51 (@reflylimasatu51) November 15, 2014
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said earlier that waves up to one-meter high could hit parts of Indonesia, while waves below 30 cm were forecast for the coasts of the Philippines.
Indonesia’s meteorological agency warned people in the northern Maluku Islands and in the north of Sulawesi in particular to stay away from the coast.
Julius Galgiano, a Philippine government seismologist, said the Philippines had also issued a tsunami warning, which has since been lifted.
Around two hours after the quake, the warning center said there was no longer a tsunami threat.
“The tsunami threat from this earthquake has now mostly passed. Any remaining threat should be evaluated by local authorities in impacted areas,” it said.
It was earlier reported that a 7.3-magnitude quake struck Indonesia, but the USGS later said that it was a 7.1-quake. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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