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Bali earthquake sparks panic, damages buildings

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DENPASAR : A strong earthquake struck Bali yesterday, causing residents to flee their homes and damaging several buildings.

The quake, which had a magnitude of 5.7, hit at 7.18am and was centred 82.1km southwest of the island's capital Denpasar, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The tremor was felt as far away as Banyuwangi on the neighbouring island of Java.

It struck relatively deep at 91km and there was no tsunami warning issued.

Residents of Bali described panic as the quake hit.

"I was carrying my baby when I felt the jolt - it was strong, I ran outside immediately and saw many people were already fleeing to the street," Denpasar resident Komang Sudiani said.

Photos circulated by Indonesia's disaster agency showed minor damage to shop fronts and temples.

"We have received reports of damage such as fallen roof tiles and broken glass in several houses and offices," said Mr Rahmat Triyono, head of the agency's earthquake and tsunami division.

More than 20 homes, schools, temples and offices suffered moderate damage in the tremor, predominantly in Badung district, near the tourist hub of Kuta, Bali authorities said.

No casualties have been reported in the disaster.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.

On Sunday, a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit the remote Maluku island chain in eastern Indonesia, killing three people and damaging nearly 1,000 houses.

Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island killed more than 2,200 people, with another thousand declared missing.- AFP