Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia capital Pixabay

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia on Thursday, forcing authorities to issue a tsunami warning in the aftermath for a relatively small area around the epicenter. The quake, which had a depth of 45.1 kilometers (28 miles), had its epicenter in the Molucca sea 138 kilometers northwest of Ternate island.

The Indonesian Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics agency (BMKG), the Indonesian government agency that monitors earthquakes, tweeted the tsunami warning.

"Most likely a tsunami won't hit the land, but we still need to be on alert," Rahmat Triyono, a senior official at BMKG told the local Kompas TV. "We issued the tsunami warning with an alert that any tsunami is estimated at only at a height of around 50 centimeters (around 20 inches)."

Residents felt the quake "very strongly" and vidoes on social media show locals in the two provinces evacuating their homes and other buildings. Reports of damage to buildings are limited so far.

Earthquakes are common in the region, which is situated on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. A magnitude 6.9 quake struck off Java island in August with a tsunami warning issued to residents in Jakarta, the capital city.

The most devastating in recent Indonesian history was on December 26 in 2004, when a magnitude-9.5 quake triggered a massive tsunami, killing around 226,000 people along the shorelines of the Indian Ocean, including more than 126,000 in Indonesia.

This is a developing story.