Jakarta: At least one person has been found dead and hundreds were evacuated after a major 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit the remote Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia, an official said.
The shallow quake struck about 165km south-southwest of the town of Ternate in North Maluku province at 6.28pm, according to the US Geological Survey.
In South Halmahera district, the closest area to the epicentre, around 160 houses collapsed when the shallow earthquake struck. A woman was confirmed dead in the disaster.
“The victim was hit by the debris when her house collapsed,” local disaster mitigation agency official Ihksan Subur said yesterday, adding no other casualties have been reported.
Hundreds of people are still sheltering in several schools, government buildings and higher grounds.
“The aftershocks still happen very frequently so people are still traumatised and don’t dare to return home just yet,” Ihksan said.
The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said until yesterday morning, at least 52 aftershocks have been recorded after the initial quake.
Local government officials have started to distribute food for the evacuees.
North Maluku province was also hit by a 6.9-magnitude tremor last week but no extensive damage or casualties were reported.
Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.
Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island killed more than 2,200 people. — AFP