A powerful earthquake struck the eastern Indian Ocean between Australia and Indonesia yesterday, rattling tall buildings as far away as Perth, Australia, a thousand miles south of the epicenter.

Local officials on Sumba, an Indonesian island, reported by telephone to Jakarta that a number of buildings had collapsed in Waingapu. They said huge tidal waves had swept away a number of fishing boats.

The officials said they did not know how many deaths or injuries had been caused by the quake.

Most sesimological stations around the world reported the force of the quake at between 7.7 and 7 on the open-ended Richter scale.

Indonesian islands closest to the center of the quake are relatively isolated, and reports from them were delayed.

In Bali, crowded with tourists, officials and hotel operators initially reported no casualties. In Lombok, 30 miles from Bali, police reported that several major buildigns, including a government office and a market, had collapsed.

More than 500 people were killed in an earthquake in Bali a year ago.

Yesterday's Java, and parts of the Celebes island group. Tremors rippled along 2,400 miles of Australian coast, but none was felt in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.

In Perth, western Australia's major city, hundreds of frightened workers fled from swaying office buildings. In Port Hedland, one of the closest Australian points to the epicenter, parked cars bounced up and down and buildings rocked and swayed for four minutes.

The Vienna Institute for Meteroloy and Geodynamics reported a reading of 8.9. It said the energy waves had knocked its equipment "out of scale," but estimated the quake at well over 8.

The Indonesian Meterology Department said the epicenter of the quake was in the ocean 931 miles southeast of Jakarta. It said the quake southeast of Jakarta. It said the quake struck shortly after 1 p.m. Jakarta time (1 a.m. EDT).

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that its earthquake information center in Golden, Colo., measured the quake at 7.7 on the Richter scale. A spokesman said it was the ninth quake in 1977 with a force over 7.

The catastrophic earthquake that struck northeastern China last year, generally regarded as the strongest of recent history, was measured between 7.6 and 8.2.

At 7 reading on the Richter scale is termed a "majro" earthquake, while an 8 is a "great" quake capable of causing tremendous damage in a densely populated city.