efe-epa(Update 1: Adds new info) Jakarta

A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake has struck an island in eastern Indonesia on Sunday, sparking panic among inhabitants of the areas affected.

Authorities have not yet indicated whether the tremor has caused any fatalities, casualties or material damage. There was no tsunami warning.

The temblor stuck the island of Halmahera at 6.10 pm local time, some 152 km southeast of the town of Sofifi in North Maluku, according to the United States Geological Survey, which records seismic activities all over the world.

It hit the Maluka island of Halmahera, some 2,400 km east of the capital Jakarta, at a depth of 10 km.

Local media reported scenes of panic and published images of people running out of a shopping mall in the city of Ternate on North Maluku island, some 165 kms from the epicenter.

People had abandoned their homes and were taking shelter in schools and official buildings, according to an Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management spokesperson cited by the Detik news site.

Seismic activity in the region has been intense in recent weeks and on 24 June a quake of the same magnitude as Sunday’s struck in the Banda Sea.

Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and on faults in the Earth’s crust, Indonesia records about 7,000 tremors a year, although most of them are relatively weak.

In September last year, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sulawesi and triggered a tsunami, causing over 2,000 deaths and leaving 200,000 displaced from Palu and Donggala. EFE-EPA

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