Strong earthquake strikes off Indonesia

A strong earthquake struck in eastern Indonesian waters early Tuesday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, meteorological officials said.

The epicenter of the 6.0-magnitude quake was 10 kilometers (6 miles) beneath the Banda Sea, and about 180 kilometers (115 miles) southwest of Ambon, the capital of Maluku province, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Indonesian officials put the magnitude of the quake, which hit at 5:53 a.m. (2053 GMT Monday) at 5.5. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

"Residents in Ambon said they did not feel anything," said Arief Akhir, an official at the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency in Jakarta, adding that no damage or casualties were reported.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

A 9.1-magnitude earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, off the coast of Sumatra Island triggered a tsunami that killed more than 131,000 people in nearby Aceh province, and more than 100,000 others in nearly a dozen other countries, reports the AP.

I.L.