Share story

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A strong undersea earthquake struck the eastern Indonesian province of Maluku on Tuesday, causing panic among residents but not triggering a tsunami. Only minor damage was reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.3 quake was centered about 32 kilometers (20 miles) west-southwest of Hila, a town on Ambon, the main island in Maluku. It was centered about 32.4 kilometers (20 miles) under the surface.

According to the Indonesia Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, it was the third of five quakes hitting the area in less than 30 minutes, with the weakest a magnitude-5.2. The area is about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) northeast of Jakarta.

Subagio, an official with the agency, said the quake struck at 8:50 p.m. and caused minor damage at the Pattimura airport in Ambon.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said there were reports of damage to some buildings, including a shopping mall in the town. It said there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Residents contacted by phone in Ambon, the province capital, said they ran out of their homes in panic and many were still on the streets.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” An extremely powerful Indian Ocean quake in December 2004 set off a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia’s Aceh province.