At least one person has been killed and many houses destroyed
Powerful quakes rock Sulawesi in Indonesia, destroying homes
Powerful earthquakes jolted the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, destroying houses and killing at least one person. An official said widespread damage was expected.
The US Geological Survey said the strongest of two major quakes had a magnitude of 7.5 and was centered at a depth of 10 kilometers about 56 kilometers northeast of the central Sulawesi town of Donggala. The quake briefly triggered a tsunami warning.
An official with the local disaster agency, Akris, said "many houses have collapsed."
"It happened while we still have difficulties in collecting data from nine villages affected by the first quake," he told The Associated Press. "People ran out in panic."
Television footage showed people running into the streets.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said communications with the region are disrupted.
"Our early estimation, based on experience, is that it caused widespread damage, beginning from (the provincial capital) Palu northward to Donggala," he told MetroTV in an interview.
The Donggala area, home to about 300,000 people, was hit earlier Friday by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake that based on preliminary information killed one person, injured 10 and damaged dozens of houses.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra in western Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.