7.2 Quake Rocks Indonesia

At least 42 people were injured and hundreds of homes and buildings damaged when a major earthquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter, struck off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island near the Philippines early on Thursday, officials said. Indonesia’s geophysics agency was prompt in issuing a tsunami alert, which was later revoked.

AFP reports say a total of 42 people have been injured, ten of them seriously, t attributed the information to crisis centre head Rustam Pakaya told AFP by text message.

Around 700 homes as well as office buildings, schools and health clinics were damaged in the remote Talaud Islands in North Sulawesi province, said a government spokesman.

“About 309 buildings have been heavily damaged and 390 others suffered light to medium damage,” he was quoted as saying by the French media giant.

Scores of residents were camped outdoors on high ground out of fear of aftershocks and tsunamis.

An estimated 5,000 residents have fled their homes.

Indonesia was the nation worst-hit by the earthquake-triggered tsunami in December 2004 that killed more than 200,000 people in 11 countries across Asia, including over 168,000 people in Indonesia’s Aceh province and Nias island.

Thursday’s quake also caused the partial collapse of the main district hospital, forcing it to move patients to local clinics, said ministry officials.

The epicentre of the quake was about 320 kilometres northeast of the Indonesian town of Manado and 280 kilometres southeast of General Santos in the Philippines, the US Geological Survey said.

There were no reports of any damage or casualties in the Philippines.

The USGS initially put the magnitude of the quake at 7.5, but later revised this down to 7.2. Indonesia measured the quake at 7.4 on the Richter scale.

Several aftershocks with magnitudes of up to 6.3 struck in the hours following the original quake, the USGS reported.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre sent a bulletin saying there was “no destructive widespread tsunami threat” based on available data.

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