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Magnitude 6.3 earthquake rocks Indonesia’s Lombok island

LOMBOK (AFP): A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the Indonesian island of Lombok Sunday, sending people fleeing into the streets just two weeks after a quake which killed more than 460 people.

The quake was centred west-southwest of Belanting town in East Lombok, the US Geological Survey said, at a relatively shallow depth of seven kilometres (four miles).

There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries from the latest tremor.

“The earthquake caused people to panic and flee their houses,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told Metro TV. “We are still checking.”

He added that landslides were reported in a national park where hundreds of hikers had been trapped on a volcano after a quake in late July.

Residents said the earthquake was felt strongly in East Lombok.

“I was driving to deliver aid to evacuees when suddenly the electricity pole was swaying. I realised it was an earthquake.

“People started to scream and cry. They all ran to the street,” East Lombok resident Augus Salim told AFP.

The tremor was also felt in the island´s capital Mataram and on the neighbouring resort island of Bali.

It comes two weeks after a shallow 6.9-magnitude quake on August 5 levelled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok.

More than 460 people died and tens of thousands were injured.

The hardest hit region was in the north of the island.

A week before that quake another tremor surged through the island and killed 17.

The August 5 quake left more than 350,000 displaced with many sleeping under tents or tarpaulins near their ruined homes or in evacuation shelters, while makeshift medical facilities were set up to treat the injured.

Badly damaged roads, particularly in the mountainous north of the island, have created a headache for relief agencies trying to distribute aid.

The economic toll of the quake — including its impact to buildings, infrastructure and productivity — has been estimated to be at least 5 trillion rupiah ($348 million).

Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world´s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, in western Indonesia, killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

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