An earthquake measuring 7.3 Richter scale jolted North Maluku in eastern parts of Indonesia on Saturday morning and a tsunami warning has been issued for the area near the quake, official of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency told Xinhua by phone here.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage after the undersea quake struck at a depth of 46 kilometres (28 miles) northwest of Kota Ternate, a town in the Malukus, at 0231 GMT, the US Geological Survey said.
"Tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 kilometres," said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
The centre said tsunami waves could hit parts of Indonesia, as well the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan and islands in the South Pacific.
On the tiny Sangihe Islands close to the epicentre in Indonesia, people ran out of their homes when the quake hit, Toni Supit, head of the islands' Sitaro district, told AFP.
"People in coastal areas felt the strong quake, which lasted for quite some time, and they immediately went to the sea to see if the water was receding abnormally, which is a sign of an incoming tsunami," he said.
Life was returning to normal after the initial shock and people were returning to their homes, he said, but added that local authorities were encouraging people to stay away from beaches until the tsunami warning was lifted.
Tsunami waves between 30 centimetres (12 inches) and one metre could hit parts of Indonesia, said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, while waves below 30 centimetres were forecast for the coasts of the Philippines.
"We have issued an early tsunami warning," an official from Indonesia's meteorological agency told AFP.
People in the northern Maluku Islands and in the north of central Sulawesi island were in particular being asked to stay away from the coast, added Mochammad Riyadi, head of the earthquake and tsunami department at Indonesia's weather agency.
Julius Galgiano, a Philippine government seismologist, said the Philippines had also issued a tsunami warning.