“Everyone ran out into the street,” Agustinus Florianus, a resident of Maumere town on Flores island, told Reuters.
Tsunami warnings were issued for the areas of Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara and Southeast and South Sulawesi, after the quake hit 112 km (69.59 miles) northwest of Larantuka, in the eastern part of Flores, at a depth of 12 km.
The U.S. Geological Survey later said the quake, which struck at 0320 GMT, had a magnitude of 7.3. An aftershock of 5.6 magnitude hit Larantuka after the first quake, the Indonesian agency said.
“It felt like a wave, up and down,” Zacharias Gentana Keranz, a resident of Larantuka told Reuters.
Alfons Hada Betan, head of East Flores Disaster Mitigation agency in Larantuka said there were no immediate reports of damage and the quake was felt for several minutes as people fled from their homes.
People said on social media the earthquake was also felt strongly in Makassar, South Sulawesi.
The U.S-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that based on preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts located within 1,000 km (621.37 miles) of the earthquake’s epicentre.
Muhamad Sadly, an official with the meteorology agency told Metro TV people should stay away from beaches adding that the tsunami warning would be lifted at least two hours after it was issued.
Indonesia straddles the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, an area of high seismic activity that rests atop multiple tectonic plates.
At least 48 people were killed and hundreds injured when the Mount Semeru volcano erupted on Java island on Dec. 4.