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Indonesia: All clear after 7.3 quake, tsunami warning

December 14, 2021

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center revoked its alert roughly one hour after the large offshore earthquake struck in the Flores Sea. Residents were still advised to stay a safe distance from the waterline.

People wait outside after evacuating a government building following an earthquake in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021.
The quake was felt as far away as the city of Makassar in South Silawesi, far north of the epicenter; staff evacuated government buildings in the coastal city as a precautionImage: Daeng Mansur/AP Photo/picture alliance

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cautioned of "hazardous waves" after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of an Indonesian town called Maumere in the Flores Sea. The warning was later lifted.

"Based on all available data [...] the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said later Tuesday.

The center added, "Minor sea level fluctuations may occur in some coastal areas."

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the powerful quake was registered at a depth of 18.5 kilometers in the Flores Sea at 12:20 p.m. local time.

The USGS said there was a small chance of casualties from the earthquake.

But it added that "recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as tsunamis and landslides that might have contributed to losses."

What happened in nearby towns?

"Everyone ran out into the street," Agustinus Florianus, a resident of Maumere town on Flores island, told Reuters news agency.

Several aftershocks tipping the scales above magnitude 5 followed in the subsequent hours.

"We have checked and there are no reports of damage," East Flores district chief Anton Hayon told Kompas TV. 

Television channels showed residents escaping the coast on motorcycles and on foot in fear of a tsunami.

Tsunami warnings were registered for the areas of Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and Southeast and South Sulawesi.

Boats, mostly excursion boats for tourists, in the port of Labuan Bajo, a fishing town located at the western end of the large island of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia
Flores Island is in the Nusa Tenggara region of east IndonesiaImage: Wolfgang Kaehler/Avalon/picture alliance

An official of the Indonesian meteorology agency, Muhamad Sadly, warned people to stay away from beaches for at least two hours, after which the tsunami warning would be lifted.

"I was in the field. People ran in panic. I am still ... scared," said Nuraini, a who lives in Adonara island in the East Flores Regency.

Indonesians have suffered greatly from living on the Ring of Fire, with a 2004 tsunami from a 9.1 magnitude tremor killing 220,000 people in the region, 170,000 from the archipelago.

jc,ar/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)