Powerful underwater earthquake hits off east Indonesia

More than 60 people injured and 200 houses damaged after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake rocks eastern part of country.

    More than 60 people have been injured and 200 houses damaged after a powerful 6.6-magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia, a disaster agency official said, and warned the number of victims could rise.

    People were woken up and ran out of their homes when the 6.6-magnitude undersea quake struck in the Papua region at about 1am (1600:GMT) on Friday, not far from the coastal city of Sorong.

    Seventeen people were so far known to have sustained serious injuries and 45 to have suffered minor injuries, while 200 houses were damaged, said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

    No deaths have so far been reported. The earthquake also caused blackouts in Sorong and patients were evacuated from a hospital in the city.

    "We are still collecting data, and we expect the number of victims and damage to increase," Nugroho said in a statement.

    The US Geological Survey put the earthquake's magnitude at 6.6 and said its epicentre was at a depth of 24km.

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

    In July, a teenage boy fell into a river and died, and several buildings were damaged when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Papua.

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

    SOURCE: AFP


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