25 dead after Indonesian earthquake in Aceh

Jakarta,Dec7:A strong undersea earthquake rocked Indonesia’s province of Aceh early Wednesday, causing several deaths and buildings to collapse in a district near the epicenter. The US Geological Survey said the shallow 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck at 5:03 a.m. (4.00 am IST) was centered about 10 kilometers north of Reuleut, a town in northern Aceh, at a depth of 17.2 kilometers.

Sulaiman, a local disaster official, told local MetroTV that a woman and her two children were killed in Pidie Jaya, 18 kilometres south-west of the epicentre.

He said several mosques in Pidie Jaya collapsed as well as shops, houses and other buildings.

Heavy equipment has been deployed for the effort to search for survivors.

About 20 people were being treated at the health centre in Bireuen and one person was moved to a hospital because of broken bones and a head injury, local health worker Achmad Taufiq said.

Social media images showed buildings reduced to rubble, fallen electricity poles and people gathering outside at street corners.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck at a depth of 17 km on Aceh’s north-eastern coast.

At least five aftershocks were felt in the hours after the initial quake, BNPB said.

The region suffered massive destruction in 2004 when a quake of magnitude-9.2 triggered a tsunami that wiped out entire communities in Indonesia and other countries around the Indian Ocean.

Indonesia was the hardest hit, with more than 120,000 people killed in Aceh alone.