Magnitude 6.6 earthquake hits eastern Indonesia; 39 injured

Manokwari (Indonesia): A 6.6-magnitude quake hit in waters off Indonesia's easternmost province early today, injuring dozens of people, damaging buildings and sending panicked residents fleeing from homes, hotels and even a hospital.

The quake, which struck at 00:53 am today (1553 GMT yesterday), was centered 28 kilometers north of Sorong, a town in Indonesia's West Papua province, the US Geological Survey said on its Web site. It occurred at a depth of 24 kilometers.

Hundreds of people fled their homes in panic in Sorong and at least 39 people were hurt, mostly with broken bones, said Petrus Korisano from the local disaster mitigation agency in Sorong. Nearly 260 houses and buildings were damaged. Hundreds of people were evacuated to temporary shelters as authorities surveyed the damage, Korisano told The Associated Press.

The panic extended to Manokwari city, 315 kilometers to the west of the epicenter, where hundreds of patients from at least one hospital had to be evacuated, some in wheelchairs or with IVs attached to their arms, said Burhanudin, an official at the disaster mitigation agency in the city, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. Hotels emptied and residents ran into the streets and higher ground in the Raja Ampat popular tourist destination.

An official from Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, Budi Waluyo, said the underwater quake had no potential to generate tsunami waves along nearby coasts.

The world's largest archipelago, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In 2004, a monster temblor off the shores of Aceh in Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Most of the deaths were in Aceh.

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