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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Major earthquake off Sulawesi, Indonesia

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Late Breaking News (last updated @ 2254 hrs)

The BBC has just reported that a major earthquake has occured in the Molucca Sea, near the northeastern tip of Sulawesi island in Indonesia. The news agency reported the quake to be of a magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale, and happened roughly an hour and a half ago, at 19:27 hrs Malaysia Time (11:27 hrs, UTC).

However, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported the quake to be of a 7.3 magnitude. Update (2224 hrs): The BBC has amended the initial report.

Image hosting by PhotobucketUSGS Map showing the epicenter of the 7.3 quake

Assessments are currently being made to determine any tsunami risk, as a result of the quake. AS of the time of this posting, no warnings have been issued. The exact location of the epicenter, as reported by the USGS was at 1.207°N, 126.292°E, putting it approximately 160km south-east of Manado, Northern Sulawesi.

Image hosting by PhotobucketInitial quake epicenter, and its proximity to Sabah and Mindanao

Update @ 2220 hrs: A secondary earthquake (likely an aftershock) has been recorded in the same vicinity (with its epicenter at 1.110°N, 126.080°E), measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, which occured at 2032 hrs Malaysia Time (1232 hrs, UTC), roughly one hour after the initial quake.

Reuters India, reporting from Manado, stated that thus far no casualties have been reported, although some buildings have been reported to have been damaged.

The occurence another devastating tsunami, as massive as the December 26, 2004 one off northern Sumatrahas, has also been an immediate concern. A spokesman for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, however, said that while the risk of such a massive tsunami was not likely, there were dangers of a "localised" tsunami, stretching from 100-200km (62-124 miles) from the epicentre (via Sofia News Agency).

Based on the information gathered by myAsylum thus far, there appears to be no immediate risk to any parts of Malaysia, the closest being the eastern coastline of Sabah.