Earthquake Rattles Indonesia

A powerful earthquake rocked parts of Sulawesi (search) in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, causing panic among residents, officials and media reports said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The earthquake registered a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 and was centered beneath the Flores Sea (search), about 40 miles west of the town of Bau Bau in southeast Sulawesi, said Budi Sulistiono, an official of the local meteorological agency. It struck at 8:04 a.m.

Sulistiono said the depth of the quake was about 23 miles under the sea of Flores.

The U.S. Geological Survey (search) said the quake measured magnitude 6.5 and was not related to the massive magnitude-9.0 quake that hit western Indonesia on Dec. 26, triggering a tsunami that killed tens of thousands across southern Asian and eastern Africa.

Jakarta's El-Shinta radio reported that residents fled their homes Saturday in panic in Bau Bau, fearing another tsunami. However, officials told the radio station that there was no possibility of a tsunami from Saturday's quake.

Residents in Bau Bau said there were no reports of any casualties or damage.

A quake measuring magnitude 6 can cause widespread damage if it hits populated areas.