Powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocks Indonesian island

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By Alastair Jamieson and Associated Press and Reuters  with NBC News World News
Image: A collapsed house following an earthquake in Donggala, Central Sulaw
A collapsed house following an earthquake in Donggala, Central Sulawesi. Indonesia was rocked by a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 28, 2018.   -   Copyright  National Agency for Disaster Management

A powerful earthquake rocked the Indonesian island of Sulawesi Friday — the latest in a series of recent quakes that killed nearly 500 people on the in the country last month.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.5 quake was centered at a depth of 6 miles, about 35 miles northeast of the town of Donggala. Earlier Friday, the same area was hit by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake that killed one person, injured 10 and damaged dozens of houses.

A handout map from the US Geological Survey (USGS) of Friday\'s largest quake.
A handout map from the US Geological Survey (USGS) of Friday\'s largest quake.USGS / HANDOUT

An official with the Akris local disaster agency said that "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."

A tsunami warning was issued but lifted, according to Indonesia's disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

He 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.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that straddles the Pacific "Ring of Fire," is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The island of Lombok was rocked by a series of tremors in August that triggered landslides and kiled at least 460 people.

In 2004, a big earthquake off the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean, killing 226,000 people in 13 countries.