Source AP ©

Two powerful earthquakes strike eastern Indonesia

Dozens of building were destroyed and at least three people killed by two powerful earthquakes that shook eastern Indonesia.

The first quake, with a magnitude of 6.4, struck late Sunday just off Sumbawa island, briefly triggering a tsunami alert. Several hours later, a powerful aftershock hit the same region.

"Everyone panicked, they were running from their houses, some to the hills," said Agung Prasetyo, a local police officer, adding that the ground shook violently for about 30 seconds.

Rustam Pakaya, the top disaster official at the Health Ministry, said three people, one of them a young child, died and 45 others were injured. He said a disaster assessment team and emergency supplies were being flown to the island.

On Monday, several aftershocks caused jumpy residents to flee their homes in the remote island. Media reports said rumors of an approaching tsunami caused some to panic further.

State news agency Antara said dozens of buildings were either destroyed or damaged, while witnesses said electricity was temporarily cut in some places, including a hospital, which was briefly evacuated.

Earlier on Sunday, a third earthquake rattled residents on the west coast of Sumatra island. Scores of people fled from their homes in the region, which has been hit by a series of powerful earthquakes in recent months.

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

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh .