JAKARTA, Indonesia >> A strong earthquake hit waters off eastern Indonesia on Monday, sending people on nearby islands fleeing from their homes in panic. Fearing a tsunami that never came, villagers living along coastlines ran to high ground.
The 6.3-magnitude quake was centered 12 miles beneath the Molucca Sea at 6:05 p.m. Hawaii time, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The earthquake did not generate a widespread tsunami threat, but had the potential for a local tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Many people in Ternate, the town in North Maluku province that was closest to the epicenter, scurried from shaking buildings, said George Rajaloa, a resident.
"I ran with everyone else," he said.
Suhardjono, from the Indonesian meteorological and geophysics agency, said at that magnitude and depth there was no danger of tsunami.
But residents fled beaches all the same.
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that make the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.