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Powerful Earthquakes Kill 3, Injure 45 in Eastern Indonesia

Two strong earthquakes struck eastern Indonesia, collapsing dozens of homes and killing three people, one of them a child. At least 45 other residents were injured, officials said Monday.

The first quake, with a magnitude of 6.4 struck late Sunday, just off Sumbawa island.

Several hours later, a powerful aftershock hit the same region.

"Everyone panicked, they were running from their houses, some to the hills," said Agung Prasetyo, a local police officer, adding that the ground shook violently for around 30 seconds.

Rustam Pakaya, the top disaster official at Indonesia's Health Ministry, said that three people, one of them a young child, were killed and 45 others were injured as a result of falling masonry.

He said a disaster assessment team and emergency supplies were being flown to the remote island.

On Monday, several aftershocks rattled the island, causing jumpy residents to flee their homes. Media reports said rumors of approaching tsunami caused some to panic still further.

State news agency Antara that "dozens" of buildings were either destroyed or damaged, while witnesses said electricity was temporarily cut in some places, including a hospital, which was briefly evacuated.

Earlier on Sunday, another earthquake tremor rattled residents on the west coast of Sumatra island. Scores of people fled from their homes in the region, which has been hit by a series of powerful earthquakes in recent months.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheavals due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh.