Hundreds evacuated in west Indonesia after magnitude 6.1 earthquake

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JAKARTA, Sept 11 (Reuters) – About 200 people evacuated to higher ground after an earthquake of magnitude 6.1 struck islands in western Indonesia on Sunday, causing some property damage, the country’s disaster mitigation agency BNPB said.

The quake in the Mentawai Islands west of Sumatra struck at a depth of 27 km (17 miles) and was followed by one of magnitude 5.3 in the same area, authorities said. There was no danger of tsunami.

One person was injured in the head by falling wood, and a school and health centre were among properties slightly damaged, the disaster agency said.

Mentawai resident Nurjuli Hasanah told Reuters the quake felt strong and shook her wooden house. “Some of (the residents) are still in an evacuation shelter and some have gone back home,” she said. 

Also on Sunday, east of the vast Indonesian archipelago, an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 struck the Eastern New Guinea region in Papua New Guinea, reportedly damaging property and spreading panic among residents.  The quake, 80 km (49.7 miles) deep, hit the eastern Papua New Guinea region at about 9:45 am local time (2345 GMT Saturday), but the shaking was felt as far as the capital of Port Moresby, about 500 km (310 miles) away. The U.S tsunami warning system issued a tsunami warning after the quake but it later said the threat had passed. There was no immediate tsunami threat to Australia, its Bureau of Meteorology said. Papua New Guinea residents took to the social media sharing images and videos of cracked roads, damaged buildings and cars, and items falling off supermarket shelves. The extent of damage was not immediately clear as the location was remote. But local media reports said at least one person had died and there were unconfirmed reports of buried houses and widespread damage. Reuters could not independently verify these reports. The government was expected to give more details later in the day. Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which like Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire,” a hotspot for seismic activity where different tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust meet and create frequent seismic activity.

(Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru, Stefanno Sulaiman in Jakarta and Nur Azna Sanusi in Singapore; Editing by Daniel Wallis and William Mallard)

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