Asia-Pacific

Indonesia is struck by three powerful earthquakes

At least three people have been killed after a series of powerful earthquakes in Indonesia, officials say.

The Indonesian earthquake agency said the largest quake, off the coast of Papua in eastern Indonesia, had a magnitude of 7.1.

There have been reports of collapsed homes in some areas. Papua is one of Indonesia's most remote and underdeveloped provinces.

A tsunami warning was issued but it has since been lifted.

The first quake, with a magnitude of 6.4, struck at 0306 GMT off the coast of the island of Yapen, in Papua, which has a population of about 70,000.

It was followed 10 minutes later by the largest quake 18 miles (29km) beneath the ocean floor off the northern coast of Papua province, the US Geological Survey said on its website.

Two people died on Yapen when their homes collapsed.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono told the Reuters news agency that the dead were a 47-year-old woman and a five-month old baby.

There have been at least two powerful aftershocks.

Another person was killed when a 5.3-magnitude quake rattled West Sulawesi province, reports say.

Police in Papua say it appears to be the worst affected area.

Deny Siregar, the chief of police on Yapen island, told the BBC that at least 20 homes had been crushed and that a church had collapsed.

He added that the powerful tremors caused scores of people to leave their homes and head for higher ground, while some sought safety at a nearby football field.

Yan Pieter Yarangga from the island of Biak told the Associated Press news agency that hundreds of people ran out of their homes after the quake.

"I ran too, I was afraid there would be a second quake," said Mr Yarangga.

Indonesia has recently been struck by many quakes. More than 1,000 people were killed off Sumatra in September 2009.

The country sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the world's most active areas for earthquakes and volcanoes.

In December 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake off the coast of Aceh triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed quarter of a million people in 13 countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

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