After a powerful earthquake, Indonesia raises tsunami alert

JAKARTA (AP) -- A tsunami alert was lifted Tuesday by Indonesia following a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that occurred off Flores Island. The earthquake caused panic in a region known for its vulnerability to deadly quakes, but did not cause any major damage or injuries.

After a powerful earthquake, Indonesia raises tsunami alert

According to the U.S. Geological Survey the earthquake struck at 18.5 km (11.5 miles under the sea) and was located 112 km (74 miles north) of Maumere. This town is the second-largest in East Nusa Tenggara Province with an estimated population of 85,000.

The tsunami warning was lifted by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Hawaii, and later the Indonesian meteorological agency hours after the initial tsunami alert.

Abdul Muhari, spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said that residents of East Flores felt the earthquake very strongly. Footage shows people fleeing from shaking buildings.

One person was reported to have been injured in East Nusa Tenggara.

The shocks were felt also in Makassar and Selayar Islands districts in South Sulawesi, which is across the Flores Sea. According to the disaster mitigation agency, a school was destroyed in the Selayar islands.

Muhari stated that minor tsunamis of 7 cm (2.8 inches) had been detected in Marapokot-Reo areas based on sea-level observations.

Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency, stated that people living along the coasts of Flores on the northern side of Flores need to be alert for possible tsunamis and further quakes.

"The tsunami potential of the earlier earthquake is no longer present." Karnawati stated that it's possible for aftershocks to occur, but hopefully not more powerful than before.

Anton Hayon, Flores Timur's chief, stated that no damage had been reported.

Hayon stated, "We asked people living in coastal areas to move away from the beaches lines, especially the northern side... because there was a huge tsunami there back in 1972."

He said that residents have participated in a tsunami drill before, and they know what to expect.

Because of its position on the "Ring of Fire," an area of volcanic eruptions that runs through the Pacific, Indonesia is a large archipelago of over 270 million people.

January saw the last major earthquake, magnitude 6.2. It killed at least 105 and left nearly 6,500 people injured in West Sulawesi.