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Thursday, July 27, 2006; Posted: 8:53 a.m. EDT (12:53 GMT)

(CNN) -- A powerful earthquake rocked the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Thursday but there was no reports of any casualties and damage while meteorologists played down the risk of tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake registered 6.0 on the Richter scale. Indonesian meteorologists put the magnitude at 6.1, centered closed to Nias island off the coast of Sumatra.

There were some reports of panic on Nias, where hundreds of people were killed by another strong quake in March 2005.

Senior Indonesian seismologist Fauzi told Jakarta-based Radio Elshinta the earthquake appeared too small to trigger a tsunami, Reuters said.

A seismologist in North Sumatra province told Reuters that no damage had been reported from the closest areas to the epicentre.

"It happened near Nias island but we have not received reports of any damage from there. It has been an hour so I think there has been no indication of a coming tsunami," said Buha Simanjuntak.

A government official on Nias told Reuters there was no indication of damage or casualties, but people fled homes and buildings after feeling the tremor.

A quake off the coast of Indonesia's Java island earlier this month triggered a tsunami that left more than 600 people dead and tens of thousands without homes.

The tsunami that hit Java on Monday killed at least 668 people. Some 74,000 residents have been displaced, either because their homes were destroyed or out of fear of living next to the sea. More than 280 are missing, officials say.

Subsequent quakes have triggered panic in a country that has no fully operational tsunami warning system in place.

Indonesia is still recovering from the effects of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, which killed more than 226,000 people when it swept ashore on Sumatra.

The archipelago nation sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of seismic instability responsible for regular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In May this year, 5,700 people were killed when a quake hit near the city of Yogyakarta on densely-populated Java island.

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