JAKARTA, Indonesia – A strong earthquake hit waters off eastern Indonesia today, sending people along coastlines fleeing to high ground in panic. Officials said, however, there was no threat of a tsunami.
The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 and was centered 12 miles beneath the Molucca Sea, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Many people in Ternate, the town in North Maluku province that was closest to the epicenter, ran from their homes and offices as the ground rattled beneath them, said George Rajaloa, a resident.
“I ran with everyone else,” he said.
Fearing a tsunami, those living near the beach also fled to high ground.
But Suhardjono, from the Indonesian meteorological and geophysics agency, said there was no danger of a seismically triggered wave.
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that make the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.