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Earthquake rattles eastern Indonesia

A magnitude-7.5 earthquake rumbled across the island of Sulawesi in eastern Indonesia early Monday morning, leaving four people dead and thousands homeless.

Credit: 

U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program

A magnitude-7.5 earthquake rocked through Indonesia's island of Sulawesi at about 1 a.m. local time Monday, leaving four people dead and prompting thousands to flee their homes. Following the mainshock, the region also experienced several strong aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 5.1 to 5.6.

The epicenter of the powerful quake was about 26 kilometers deep and struck off the northern coast of the island about 135 kilometers northwest of the city of Gorontalo, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazards Program. At least one school collapsed and hundreds of buildings were destroyed in the Gorontalo region.

Immediately following the temblor, Indonesia issued a tsunami warning for coastlines within 1,000 kilometers of the epicenter, but later withdrew the warning when no tsunami occurred after 90 minutes. No Pacific-wide tsunamis are expected to result from the temblor, according to NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Indonesia announced the launch of its new high-tech tsunami warning system last week, but the system will not be fully operational until 2010.

Indonesia's Bureau of Meteorology and Geophysics (BMG) also stated it will be closely monitoring two of Sulawesi's volcanoes, Lokon and Soputan, to determine whether the quake has affected them.

Carolyn Gramling
Monday, November 17, 2008 - 09:30