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One dead, hundreds evacuated after 7.3 earthquake in Indonesia

At least one person has been found dead and hundreds were evacuated after a major 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit the remote Maluku islands in eastern Indonesia on Sunday, an official said.

The shallow quake struck about 165 kilometres (100 miles) south-southwest of the town of Ternate in North Maluku province at 6:28 pm (0928 GMT), according to the US Geological Survey.

In South Halmahera district, the closest area to the epicentre, around 160 houses collapsed when the shallow earthquake struck. A woman was confirmed dead in the disaster.

“The victim was hit by the debris when her house collapsed,” local disaster mitigation agency official Ihksan Subur told AFP Monday, adding no other casualties have been reported.

Hundreds of people are still sheltering in several schools, government buildings and higher grounds.

“The aftershocks still happen very frequently so people are still traumatised and don’t dare to return home just yet,” Subur said.

Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said until Monday morning at least 52 aftershocks have been recorded after the initial quake.

Local government officials have started to distribute logistics and food for the evacuees.

North Maluku province was also hit by a 6.9-magnitude tremor last week but no extensive damage or casualties were reported.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.

Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island killed more than 2,200 people, with another thousand declared missing.

On December 26, 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 across the Indian Ocean region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.

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