Powerful quake rocks Indonesia

Magnitude 7.5 quake kills at least four and triggers brief tsunami alert.

    US officials issued a tsunami warning for an area within 1,000km of the epicentre, but the Indonesian tsunami alert was lifted shortly after being issued.

    The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) had warned that the earthquake had "the potential to generate a destructive regional tsunami along coasts located within a thousand kilometres of the earthquake epicentre".

    Coastal evacuation

    Speaking to Al Jazeera, the PTWC spokesman Stuart Weinstein said: "This is a much smaller earthquake than the Sumatra earthquake of December 2004, it is not going to be anything remotely like that."

    The Indonesian state-run Antara news agency said thousands of people fled their homes and hotel rooms in Gorontalo when the earthquake struck at 17:02 GMT.

    The 2004 Asian tsunami killed nearly a quarter of a million people, most of them in Indonesia's Aceh region.

    That disaster led to pressure for better tidal warning systems in the region.

    Indonesia launched a new hi-tech system on Tuesday, aimed at detecting tidal waves and providing faster alerts.

    The $130m system is able to detect an earthquake at sea and predict within five minutes whether it could cause a tsunami.

    Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, said at the launch that Indonesia was "living on the edge".

    "Three tectonic plates - the Eurasian, Indo-Australian and Pacific meet here. This kind of disaster can strike at any time," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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