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Two powerful earthquakes strike off of Indonesia

Two powerful earthquakes have struck off the coast of Indonesia’s largest island, sending panicked locals running into the streets.

A magnitude 6.8 tremor hit at 5.23am local time on Wednesday around 80 miles off the island of Sumatra, before another 6.9 quake followed just six minutes later. 

Frightened residents fled their homes in the city of Bengkulu as the quakes rumbled through, but there were no immediate reports of damage or fatalities. 

‘The first earthquake was quick…but another one hit shortly after and it was just as strong,’ Bengkulu resident Jumentrio, who goes by one name, told AFP. 

‘My children screamed hysterically.’

The area was hit by a string of aftershocks, according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

‘But until now we haven’t received any report of damages due to the earthquakes,’ said Rahmat Triyono, head of the agency’s tsunami and earthquake centre.

The quakes struck at a relatively shallow depth of between 22 and 26 kilometres, respectively. Shallower quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.

But The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System said there was ‘no threat to countries in the Indian Ocean’.

There was a ‘low likelihood of casualties and damage’, the USGS added.

The Southeast Asian archipelago experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, where tectonic plates collide.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

A devastating 9.1-magnitude quake struck off the coast of Sumatra in 2004, triggering a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.

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