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Strong earthquake strikes off coast of eastern Indonesia

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A strong earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Wednesday, causing panic among residents but no destructive tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.9 quake hit 106 kilometers (66 miles) southeast of Amahai, a town on Seram, the biggest island in Maluku province.

It said the quake was centered in the Banda Sea at a depth of 33.9 kilometers (21 miles).

Wahyu, an official in Indonesia's Meterology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency, said there was no danger of a tsunami.

The quake was felt in Banda Neira and in Maluku's capital, Ambon, said Wahyu, who like many Indonesians uses a single name.

Marzuki, a hotel employee in Banda Neira on Banda Island, about 2,600 kilometers (1,615 miles) east of Jakarta, said residents and hotel guests rushed out into the streets in panic.

"They ran to higher areas, some screaming 'tsunami, tsunami,'" Marzuki said.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive earthquake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

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