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Tsunami warning lifted after strong quake hits off Indonesia

AFP  |  Jakarta 

A strong 6.8 magnitude rocked eastern Friday, the United States Geological Survey said, triggering a warning and sending panicked residents fleeing from their homes.

The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 17 kilometres off the of Sulawesi island, the USGS said, where a 7.5-magnitude quake-around the city of Palu killed more than 4,300 people last year.

Indonesia's disaster agency issued a warning for coastal communities in district, where residents were advised to move away from the coast.

The warning was later lifted by the agency, which had estimated the wave at under a half a metre (20 inches).

But the USGS warned that considerable damage was possible in poorly built or badly designed structures.

It was not immediately clear how much damage was caused by the quake or if there were any casualties.

Hapsah Abdul Madjid, who lives in city in district, Central Sulawesi, where the tremor was felt strongly, said people fled to higher ground and the was cut, adding that residents panicked as fears soared over an imminent tsunami.

The tremor off the eastern coast of Sulawesi is on the other side of the island from disaster-hit Palu, where residents still felt the quake despite being hundreds of kilometres away.

"I ran straight outside after the -- everything was swaying," 29-year-old Palu resident told AFP. Thousands in Palu were still living in makeshift shelters six months after the late September disaster with at least 170,000 residents of the city and surrounding districts displaced and entire neighbourhoods still in ruins, despite life returning to normal in other areas of the tsunami-struck city.

The force of the quake saw entire neighbourhoods levelled by liquefaction -- a process where the ground starts behaving like a liquid and swallows up the earth like quicksand.

Apart from the damage to tens of thousands of buildings, the disaster destroyed fishing boats, shops and irrigation systems, robbing residents of their income.

has said the damage bill in Palu topped USD 900 million. The has offered the country up to USD 1 billion in loans to get the city back on its feet.

is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.

Last year was a particularly tough one, however, with more than 2,500 disasters ranging from a series of deadly earthquakes to killer landslides and volcanic eruptions.

The sprawling archipelago is dotted with more than 100 volcanoes, including one in the middle of the between and Sumatra islands that erupted in late 2018 and unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 400 people.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 12 2019. 19:25 IST