Powerful Indonesian quake felt in Australia

JAKARTA — A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck remote eastern Indonesia on Monday, forcing people to flee office buildings as far away as the northern Australian city of Darwin, officials and reports said.

The deep and powerful earthquake sent shockwaves around the region, with people on the tourist island of Bali as well as in East Timor reporting feeling the tremor.

Indonesia was the epicentre of the Asian tsunami in 2004 that killed more than 170,000 people but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Monday’s quake was too deep to trigger a destructive wave.

Indonesia’s disaster agency, which urged people to “stay calm”, said the tremor was felt weakly in faraway Bali.

It hit at a depth of 208 kilometres (129 miles) south of Ambon island in the Banda Sea at 11:53 local time, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

There were no reports of casualties or any major damage.

“Wow, that was quite an impact for #Darwin, hope everyone is safe,” the bureau of meteorology in Australia’s Northern Territory said on Twitter.

People in Darwin’s central business district fled buildings after the quake struck, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The Southeast Asian archipelago of Indonesia, which is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth, lies to the north of Australia.

While the quake was too deep to spark a tsunami, its raw power jolted the region.

“The earthquake occurred at a depth of about 200 kilometres, and as the energy spreads upwards and outwards from the point at which it occurs, it will be felt in places as far away as Darwin,” said Chris Elders, a quake expert at Australia’s Curtin University.

Residents of Dili, the capital of East Timor, which lies southwest of the epicentre, were terrified as buildings shook.