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Updated: 15th November 2019 23:29 World

Indonesia quake damages some homes, churches as residents return

At least two people were injured and some churches and homes damaged after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Indonesia, although residents who had fled to high ground fearing a tsunami had started returning, the disaster agency said on Friday.

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More than 90 aftershocks happened after initial quake

Residents leave their homes to find higher grounds following an earthquake in Ternate, North Maluku, Indonesia, on July 14. An earthquake measuring 7.1 struck in the same region Thursday, sending people into the streets. (The Associated Press)

At least two people were injured and some churches and homes damaged after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Indonesia, although residents who had fled to high ground fearing a tsunami had started returning, the disaster agency said on Friday.

The quake in the Moluccas struck late on Thursday and had a magnitude of 7.1 with its epicentre in the sea 139 km northwest of the city of Ternate, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A tsunami alert was lifted after almost two hours, although there have been more than 90 aftershocks since the initial quake.

Agus Wibowo, a spokesperson for Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), said two people sustained minor injuries in Ternate in the province of North Maluku, also known as the Moluccas, citing the local disaster mitigation agency. Six houses and two churches were also lightly damaged.

"The local disaster mitigation agency in Ternate has also said that the people who were staying away from beaches started returning to their homes this morning," he said in a statement, adding that calm had returned to the city of Bitung on Sulawesi island and in the Halmahera district in the Moluccas.

The quake had earlier caused panic among many residents, prompting them to flee to higher ground.

Indonesia is situated on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which frequently has earthquakes and sometimes accompanying tsunamis.

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake had struck the Moluccas in July, killing at least four people. The most devastating earthquake in recent Indonesian history was on Dec. 26, 2004, when a magnitude-9.5 quake triggered a massive tsunami that killed around 226,000 people along the shorelines of the Indian Ocean, including more than 126,000 in Indonesia.

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