Powerful earthquake, tsunami hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi

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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.5 has struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, triggering a tsunami that hit nearby coastlines, officials and witnesses say. There are reports of casualties.

The earthquake, which struck at a 5:02 p.m. local time on Friday, was centered on land about 56 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Donggala, or 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Palu. It struck at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), making it a very shallow earthquake.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude at 7.5 and added that it was followed by a series of smaller aftershocks. Indonesia’s seismological agency BMKG put the magnitude at 7.4.

Footage shared by witnesses showed a tsunami hitting the coast at the Bioskop Palu Grand Mall in Palu, but the extent of the damage and casualties was not immediately known. A nearby mosque partially collapsed.

Just 3 hours before the earthquake, the same area was hit by a smaller tremor that measured 6.1, killing at least one person and injuring 10 others. A local official said an unknown number of people were reported missing in the aftermath of the second earthquake.

Indonesia is on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin which is prone to frequent and large earthquakes.

A 9.1-magnitude earthquake, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, struck off the west coast of Sumatra in December 2004, unleashing a massive tsunami that struck scores of countries and killed nearly 230,000 people.

More recently, a series of strong earthquakes struck the Indonesian island of Lombok in July and August, killing nearly 600 people and injuring more than 1,300 others. Scores of buildings were destroyed.

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