At least one person has died on the Indonesian Island of Java after a powerful 6.5 magnitude earthquake levelled buildings and sparked fears of a tsunami.

Indonesian authorities issued warnings for large swathes of coastline on the country's most populous island, after the quake struck shortly after 11.30pm local time, on Friday (15 December).

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho announced that a 62-year-old man was confirmed dead in the Ciamis region of western Java, with more casualties expected.

Indonesian TV stations reported buildings had collapsed and captured people fleeing from their homes, causing heavy traffic as locals ran from coastal areas to higher ground.

People were woken as their homes shook, with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) stating that the epicentre of the quake was at a depth of 92km, about 52km southwest of Tasikmalaya, in West Java.

Nugroho added in a statement that strong tremors were felt for about 20 seconds in the capital of Jakarta and that "houses and other buildings are damaged in many areas".

The official said there were reports of more injuries in cities and villages close to Tasikmalaya, with tremors being felt across central and west Java.

Describing the quake to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) one witness, from Jakarta, recounted the moment the tremors struck.

"I thought someone was trying to break into our apartment. I ran from room to room trying to find out what was going on. Freaky," they said.

Chief meteorologist at US network ABC, Ed Piotrowski, posted on Twitter: "A 6.5 magnitude earthquake has occurred on the coast of Indonesia. Tsunami possible."

Indonesia's national disaster management agency said the quake activated an early tsunami warning, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said no tsunami had been detected, reported the Mirror Online.

Indonesia's MetroTV reported that a general hospital in the central Java town of Banyumas was damaged in the quake and patients had to evacuated from the building.