A tsunami alert was sounded and later downgraded after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake northwest of Indonesia's Maluku Islands.

The tremor was reported 134km northwest of the island of Ternate , 45km deep, according to the US Geological Survey.

The earthquake was located between the islands of Sulawesi and Halmahera.

One person posted online from the capital city on the island of Sulawesi: "On top floor of a 8-storey apartment building in Manado. Building swayed strongly for a full minute. Painting fell from wall. People rushed out but we did not run downstairs. Still swaying slightly even now."

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The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center subsequently issued a statement saying the tsunami danger had "passed".

"There is no longer a tsunami threat from thsi earthquake," it said.

"Minor sea level fluctuations may occur in some coastal areas near the earthquake over the next few hours."