By Ainur Rohmah
TUBAN, Indonesia (AA) – A powerful earthquake caused residents of Indonesia’s Maluku Islands to rush to the streets in panic during the pre-fast Ramadan meal Wednesday, as its shocks rocked furniture and damaged buildings.
The country’s meteorological agency reported that the magnitude 6.6 temblor struck 124 kilometers (77 miles) west-northwest of the Maluku Islands at a depth of 33 kilometers.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, national disaster management agency spokesperson, told Anadolu Agency that despite the strength of the shallow quake, it lacked the energy to generate a tsunami.
"People panicked and those who were awake at dawn poured out of their houses," he said, adding that four homes were severely damaged and 14 other buildings suffered minor damage.
Ari, a resident of North Maluku province, was quoted by kompas.com as saying, “the earthquake happened when I was eating. It felt strong enough that a picture frame was rocking."
Many Indonesians use only one name.
Tremors also rocked northern cities on Sulawesi Island to the west of the Malukus, such as Bitung and West Halmahera, for around five to 10 seconds.
"It is estimated that the impact of the earthquake will not be widely destructive," Nugroho said.
Local disaster agencies are continuing to assess damage to buildings, and any possible casualties.
Indonesia lies within the Pacific’s "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
Last week, a magnitude 6.5 tremor damaged buildings in western Sumatra Island, with its shocks reportedly felt in parts of Singapore and peninsular Malaysia to the north.
On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck the eastern coast of Sumatra, causing a tsunami that killed around 230,000 people as it tore along the coasts of Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.