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One dead after strong quake strikes near Indonesia's Ambon

One dead after strong quake strikes near Indonesia's Ambon
An aerial view of a devastated region nearly one year after an earthquake and tsunami, taken over Sulawesi, Indonesia, sometime in September 2019 by a drone and obtained from social media. UN OCHA Asia-Pacific via REUTERS -
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AMBON, Indonesia (Reuters) – At least one person died on Thursday after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit Indonesia’s eastern province of Maluku, damaging buildings and sending people fleeing to the hills, officials and witnesses said.

Disaster officials said the early morning quake, initially measured at a magnitude of 6.8, woke residents of towns such as the provincial capital of Ambon, about 40 km (25 miles) from the epicentre, but the geophysics agency ruled out a tsunami.

Part of the third floor at an Islamic university collapsed in the quake, killing one person, said Benny Bugis, a cameraman who works for Reuters.

“He was just getting out of a car and entering a door and the collapsing rubble fell onto him,” Bugis said, adding that two people were also injured.

Albert Simaela, a disaster agency official in Ambon, confirmed the death.

“Now everyone has headed to the hills, by motorcycles, by cars and on foot. The traffic is clogged,” he told Reuters.

“Children are off school now, the city is quiet because everyone has evacuated. Although there is information that there will be no tsunami, people are still afraid.”

Video images on social media showed plaster and rubble scattered on floors and chairs in the Al Anshor Islamic boarding school, but a witness said no injuries were reported there.

Another video showed large cracks and broken glass at a car showroom.

Indonesia, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, often experiences deadly earthquakes and tsunamis.

In September 2018, Palu, on the island of Sulawesi west of Maluku, was devastated by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and a powerful tsunami it unleashed, killing more than 4,000 people.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 in 14 countries, more than 120,000 of them in Indonesia.

GRAPHIC: Map of Seram island in Maluku province, Indonesia – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/6563/6494/Seram%20island.jpg

(Reporting by Ed Davies and Gayatri Suroyo in Jakarta, Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Clarence Fernandez)

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