The quake struck about 165 kilometres south-southwest of the town of Ternate in North Maluku province at 6:28 pm local time, at a depth of 10 kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey.
"The earthquake was quite strong, sending residents to flee outside, they are panicking and many are now waiting on the roadside," local disaster mitigation official Mansur, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.
Officials were assessing the situation but there were no immediate reports of casualties, Mansur said.
The province was also hit by a 6.9-magnitude tremor last week but no extensive damage was reported.
Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.
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.
On December 26, 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia. MRJ MRJ
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