1 missing after strong underground earthquake rocks Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua



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JAYAPURA, Indonesia — A strong earthquake struck Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua early Tuesday panicking people with at least one teenager missing after possibly drowning in a river. Several buildings and houses were either destroyed or damaged.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-7.0 underground quake struck at 6:41 a.m. Tuesday (2141 GMT) and was centered 247 kilometers (153 miles) west of Jayapura, the provincial capital of Papua.

Its depth was measured at 52.9 kilometers (32.8 miles) beneath the remote mountainous region of the island.

"Everyone panicked, they were running from their houses," said Yonas Taufudu, a disaster mitigation official in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province.

He said a 15-year-old boy was feared to have drowned after falling into a river in Memberamo, a mountainous district close to the epicenter, and electricity was cut in some places, including a hospital, which was briefly evacuated.

Hendra Rahman, an official of the Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the quake was felt across the province and that the strongest hit area was Sarmi, a town on the northern coast of the island.

Communication problems in mountain forests and remote areas were hampering efforts to assess the situation, said Sutopo Purwon Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. But at least four houses, a church and two buildings were reportedly either destroyed or damaged in Memberamo.

He said a disaster assessment team and emergency supplies were being flown to the affected areas.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire." A massive earthquake off Sumatra island in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, mostly in Indonesia's Aceh province.

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