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Powerful earthquakes strike Asia

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Two powerful earthquakes have struck the north-eastern Indonesian Moluccas islands and Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, triggering tsunami alerts.

The first, which had a magnitude of 6.6, occurred at 0902 (0002 GMT) about 120km (75 miles) north of the city of Ternate, the US Geological Survey said.

A few minutes later, a 7.2-magnitude quake hit Hokkaido's coast, 220km (135 miles) east of the capital, Sapporo.

There have so far been no reports of casualties from either country.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a warning for a 50cm (20-inch) tsunami along the eastern coast of Hokkaido and the north-eastern coast of the country's main island of Honshu.

The warning was later cancelled.

A tsunami alert issued immediately after the tremor in the Moluccas islands was lifted by Indonesia's meteorological agency when the feared wave never came.

"I felt the shaking but it wasn't really strong," Ojihan Washab, a hospital worker in Ternate, told the AFP news agency afterwards.

In Japan, emergency procedures were put into effect.

"Many people have evacuated up on higher ground." Jan Chadzynski told the BBC.

"My daughter is in elementary school here, all her school has been evacuated to the roof of the school."

A tsunami forms when energy from an earthquake vertically jolts the seabed by several metres, displacing a huge volume of water.

An earthquake off Indonesia triggered the 2004 Asian tsunami, which killed approximately 220,000 people across the Indian Ocean.

Indonesia and Japan both lie on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the world's most seismically active areas.



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