Earthquake strikes off Indonesia

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sulawesi is a large island in Indonesia.

Indonesian officials have said an underwater earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale has erupted off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. At first, officials told residents to flee coastal areas as a safety measure, but they later said there had been no tsunami. According to reports, no damage has been caused.

Last week, an underwater quake with a magnitude of 7.7 produced a tsunami that ravaged a 200km stretch of Java's southern coast. Six hundred and fifty people perished after the deadly two-metre high tidal wave struck, and it is estimated that over three hundred people are still missing.

Navy boats and marine police have been searching for dead bodies off Java's coast, but according to the Associated Press, rough seas today have forced teams to abort their operations.

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Regions hardest hit, like the small town of Pangandaran, are starting to return to normality. However, people who have taken refuge in camps are refusing to return home due to fears of another tsunami.

Indonesia's President has said efforts to build an early warning system planned after the 2004 Asian tsunami are to be accelerated. His government has been criticised as to why local people weren't informed that a tsunami was imminent last week.

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