Strong earthquake hits Indonesia, damages a dozen buildings

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Jan. 9 (UPI) — A strong, deep-sea earthquake struck Indonesia early Tuesday, damaging more than a dozen buildings and causing residents to spill out into the streets in panic, officials said.

The 7.5 magnitude temblor occurred at 2:47 a.m. WIB, striking at a depth of 80 miles in the Banda Sea about 80 miles northwest of the southern Tanimbar Islands, Indonesia’s national disaster management agency said in a statement.

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As many as 15 buildings of the Tanimbar Islands, located east of Timor-Leste, were damaged, including one heavily and three moderately with the rest still being assessed, according to officials who said at least one person was injured.

The national disaster management agency said the shock of the earthquake was felt by residents of the Tanimbar Islands for up to 5-seconds, sparking people to rush out of their homes into the streets.

Aftershocks as strong as 5.5 magnitude were reported about 20 minutes later, it said, adding that there was no tsunami threat.

Australia’s joint tsunami warning center confirmed that there was no threat of a tsunami.

More than 2,800 people in northern Australia reported feeling the shock despite being more than 370 miles away, Geoscience Australia said.

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Australia Olympian and former senator Nova Peris reported feeling the temblor in Darwin, writing on Twitter that the earthquake “was freaking scary.”

“The entire house just shook like crazy and pictures fell off the walls!” she tweeted.

Australian singer Vassy similarly wrote that the shaking woke her up.

“I’ve never experienced an earthquake that lasted that long and felt so strong,” she tweeted, stating it caused her to run out of her house. “It was rather scary.”

Chief Minister of the Norther Territory Natasha Fyles called on northern Australians to be wary of aftershocks.

“Suspect a few of us are going to need a coffee (or four) to get going later this morning after that shock,” she said on Facebook.