JAKARTA, Indonesia – A strong earthquake rocked parts of eastern Indonesia (search) early Friday, killing six people, injuring 40 and damaging hundreds of buildings, seismologists and officials said.
The magnitude-6 quake struck at 5:26 a.m. and was centered 20 miles off the eastern coast of Alor island, about 1,000 miles east of the capital Jakarta (search), said seismologist Rahmat Triono in Jakarta.
Six residents were killed and 40 injured in Alor said Fransiscus Salem, a local government official said on Radio El-Shinta.
"We are still feeling many small tremors here," Salem said. "We hope the quake has peaked. But, we are afraid of big aftershocks which can cause more deaths."
One person died when his shop roof collapsed, witnesses said. Twenty others were hospitalized and hundreds of homes, shops and offices were damaged on the island's main town of Kalabahi, they said.
The earthquake and two aftershocks could be felt as far away as the East Timor capital of Dili, where witnesses said residents ran from their homes in panic.
Two East Timorese sailors were injured when the quake jolted their boat causing it to collide with a freighter in Dili harbor, while a hotel worker broke his leg after falling down in his home, a hospital official said.
The walls on several building were cracked, witnesses said.
Indonesia, the world's largest archipelagic nation, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location in an area where the Australian continental plate is being pushed underneath Southeast Asia, creating an arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches.