Thousands displaced after Indonesia's Sulawesi quake

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JAKARTA, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Almost 10,000 people have been displaced from their homes following a powerful earthquake that rattled Indonesia's Sulawesi island, a health ministry official said on Tuesday.

The strong 7.5 magnitude undersea earthquake struck early on Monday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 150. Indonesia's meteorology agency briefly issued a tsunami alert following the quake, but the warning was lifted later.

Rustam Pakaya, head of the health ministry's crisis centre, said in a text message more than 1,000 buildings had been damaged in two provinces in Sulawesi, forcing nearly 10,000 people out of their homes to safe shelters.

A bridge in Buol regency was also broken by the tremors, Pakaya said.

Indonesia suffers frequent earthquakes as it lies in a seismically active "Pacific Ring of Fire". It was hit by a devastating Indian Ocean tsunami about four years ago that left an estimated 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia alone.

Indonesia launched a new hi-tech system last week aimed at detecting potential tsunamis and providing faster alerts in a region battered by frequent earthquakes, though experts say large parts of the country are still not covered and the system will not be fully operational until 2010.

(Reporting by Telly Nathalia; Editing by Sugita Katyal and Jerry Norton)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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