An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 shook buildings for several minutes in northeastern Indonesia Sunday, causing minor damage, the U.S. Geological Survey and witnesses said.

More than an hour after the underwater tremor off the eastern coast of Sulawesi island, there were no reports of casualties or a tsunami, local officials said.

Three people were slightly injured when a church was damaged in the regional capital, Manado, a witness told The Associated Press.

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The Indonesian seismological institute, which put the tremor at 6.7 magnitude, issued a tsunami alert via local television and radio after the earthquake hit around 6 miles under the Molucca Sea.

Frightened residents on the islands of Maluku and Sulawesi ran in panic to higher ground.

The epicenter was around 80 miles from the city of Ternate in the Maluku capital and nearly 1,400 miles northeast of Jakarta.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which recorded a more powerful 7.6 magnitude, had said a regional tsunami was possible.

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 volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 lives — 131,000 people in Indonesia's Aceh province alone. A tsunami off Java island last year killed nearly 5,000.

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