Jakarta: A massive earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale struck Indonesia’s Maluku province on Tuesday, prompting authorities to issue a tsunami alert.
The quake occurred at 12.47 a.m. with its epicentre located 148 km northwest of Maluku Tenggara Barat (Kepulauan Tanimbar) district and a depth of 131 km under the seabed, Xinhua news agency reported citing the authorities as saying.
The tremors were also felt in several nearby provinces.
Three aftershocks from weak to moderate levels followed the main quake, according to the authorities.
As a precautionary measure, some 2,000 Maluku residents have shifted to higher grounds over fears of a potential tsunami, a disaster management official said.
The tsunami alert has been issued for Maluku and the nearby province of Southeast Sulawesi.
Meanwhile, officials have confirmed that several houses and buildings were destroyed as a result of the quake.
Some of them had cracks, while several others collapsed, another disaster management official told Xinhua.
The official said that an assessment would be conducted to find out the exact the impact of the temblor.
So far, he said, there were no preliminary reports of injuries or fatalities.
“We have carried out several times of drill over an anticipation of tsunami. So when the quake happened, the residents rushed to leave the coastal areas and headed to higher grounds,” the official said.
The last time Indonesia was hit by a tsunami was during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
On December 26, 2004, the powerful earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter scale struck with an epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
With waves up to 100 ft high, the tsunami devastated communities along the surrounding coasts of the Indian Ocean, killing an estimated 227,898 people in 14 countries in one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
Indonesia reported the highest number deaths at 130,736.