JAKARTA, Indonesia – A strong earthquake in northern Indonesian destroyed houses and flattened buildings in several villages Wednesday, officials said, but there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
The 6.1-magnitude tremor struck at 10:32 a.m. (0132 GMT) north of the Maluku islands, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was centered 70 kilometers (45 miles) beneath the sea and 216 kilometers (134 miles) northeast of Ternate, the capital of North Maluku province.
Around 10 houses, a mosque, a school and government buildings were destroyed in the villages of Sapi, Hapo and Libano on Morotai island, local officials said.
"So far, reports received from Hapo village said the houses were ruined," said Helmy Agus Riadi of the regional Meteorology and Geophysics Agency. "But there was no word of casualties."
Local administrator Lukman Bajak told The Associated Press by telephone that reports of flattened buildings in the three villages had come in via radio and that "there is no telephone communication in those remote areas."
Electricity lines were also cut, he said.
Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
A magnitude 9 earthquake off of Sumatra island triggered the 2004 tsunami that killed more than 131,000 people in Indonesia alone and left a half-million others homeless.