Strong earthquake in Indonesia. Tsunami alarm lifted
by Mathias Hariyadi
The 7.4 magnitude quake struck the North Sulawesi province. The alarm for a possible tsunami generated panic among the population. 64 aftershocks followed the original quake. Homes and churches in the area are damaged.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesia has lifted a tsunami warning after a powerful earthquake struck near the Talaud Islands north of Sulawesi Island. The 7.4 magnitude quake struck at 1.34 am (local time) and was followed by 64 aftershocks, the strongest of which reached 6.4 on the Richter scale.  The epicentre of the quake was in the Talaud Islands, 323.5km south-southeast of General Santos, on the Philippine island of Mindanao, at a depth of 30 km.

Fearing a tsunami the islands population fled their homes, seeking refuge in the coconut trees or on high round.  The tsunami alarm launched by the authorities generated panic, as many people recalled the killer wave of 2004 which left over 230 thousand people dead across Asia, many f the victims in Indonesia.

Rustam Pakaya, an official of crisis centre in Jakarta reported dozens of houses and a number of churches severely destroyed, adding that “Injured victims are mostly found in Melonguane and Kabaruan districts,” although there is still no news of victims.

According to the first eyewitness accounts to come from the area most of the local population was frightened out of sleep when the quake struck.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake and tsunami went off the country's western city of Banda Aceh and Nias in North Sumatra that killed more than 230,000 people. In July 2006, another strong quake hit Yogyakarta and Klaten in Central Java which claimed life of 5000 people. Another powerful tsunami also hit Pangandaran in West Java in 2007 which killed nearly 2000.