Indonesia issues tsunami alert after powerful quake causes panic

Indonesia issues tsunami alert after powerful quake causes panic
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia issued a tsunami alert on Thursday after a powerful earthquake struck in the sea near the Moluccas, prompting panicked islanders to flee to higher ground, according to residents and a media report.

The quake had a magnitude of 7.1 and struck 139 km (86 miles) northwest of the city of Ternate at a depth of 45 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Earlier, the agency put the magnitude at 7.4.

“Most likely it (a tsunami) won’t hit the land, but we still need to be on alert,” Rahmat Triyono, an official at Indonesia’s geophysics agency, told Kompas TV. He said there had been no reports of damage so far.

The quake was also felt strongly on the island of Sulawesi, to the west of the epicenter.

Indah Lengkong, a resident of port city of Bitung in North Sulawesi, said by text message: “The house was visibly shaking.”

People in her neighborhood had initially panicked, she said, adding: “The quake was very strong and lasted for a while. We can still feel tremors but weaker.”

Twitter user @inritaehyungie, who lives in Tondano in North Sulawesi, also felt the quake strongly.

“The earth was literally shaking so hard,” she said.

Metro TV said some residents had fled to higher ground in the North Moluccas.

(Reporting by Jakarta bureau; Writing by David Evans and Ed Davies; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Kitchen devices resembling bombs cause havoc for New York commuters

New York City police officers are seen as police said they were investigating two suspicious packages at the Fulton St. subway station in Manhattan, New York, U.S. August 16, 2019. REUTERS/Catherine Koppel

By Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Kitchen appliances resembling pressure cookers were left in two Manhattan locations on Friday, disrupting automobile and subway travel during the morning rush hour before police deemed them harmless and began investigating the possibility of a hoax.

The discoveries of the devices, which the city’s chief counterterrorism officer called “rice cookers that could be mistaken for pressure cookers,” raised concern because of the latter’s previous use as makeshift bombs in New York and Boston.

Surveillance video shows a dark-haired man in his 20s or 30s with a shopping cart placing the devices at two locations inside the busy downtown Fulton Street subway station, said John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.

“Because of the timing and the placement and items we’re carrying this right now as a hoax device,” Miller told reporters at the scene. “That’s the investigative category.”

The unidentified man is “not a suspect but certainly someone we’d want to interview,” he said. Police posted two photographs on social media of the cookers at Fulton Street.

Officials said they had not determined whether the discovery about an hour later of a third implement resembling a pressure cooker next to a garbage can on a street corner in the borough’s Chelsea neighborhood was related, Miller said.

Miller noted that in September 2016 the so-called “Chelsea Bomber,” Ahmad Khan Rahimi, wounded 30 people using a device made from a pressure cooker and a cellphone timer that exploded on Manhattan’s West 23rd Street. Another pressure cooker bomb was left nearby but did not explode.

Rahimi was sentenced last year to life in prison.

There was also an explosion in Midtown Manhattan in December 2017 when a Bangladeshi man, Akayed Ullah, detonated a homemade bomb in a pedestrian tunnel connecting two subway lines and a bus terminal. Three people were wounded.

Pressure cookers were turned into bombs by a pair of ethnic Chechen brothers when they killed three people and injured more than 200 at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

The discoveries, which were first reported at about 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) created havoc for thousands of motorists and commuters on the numerous subway lines that converge at Fulton Street as police and bomb squad vehicles swarmed to the scene.

Even after police deemed the devices harmless at the Fulton Street station complex, which is close to the World Trade Center, officials warned of residual delays for commuters.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Steve Orlofsky)