Dozens killed as deadly magnitude 6.5 earthquake hits Aceh in Indonesia

JAKARTA: An earthquake off Indonesia’s northern Aceh province has killed at least 97 people, say local military officials.

The magnitude 6.5 quake struck just off the north-east coast of Sumatra island, where dozens of buildings have collapsed and many people are feared trapped under rubble.
“So far, 97 people have been killed and the number keeps growing,” Aceh military chief Tatang Sulaiman said in a live TV interview.

Hundreds of people have been injured.

In 2004, a huge undersea quake off the coast of Aceh caused a tsunami that killed more than 160,000 people in Indonesia alone.

There was no tsunami after Wednesday’s tremor, which the US Geological Survey said struck just offshore at 05:03 local time (22:03 GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 8km.

A spokesman for Indonesia’s national disaster agency said more than 200 shops and homes had been destroyed, along with 14 mosques. A hospital and school were also badly damaged.

“We estimate the number of casualties will continue to rise as some of the residents are still likely [to be] under the rubble of the buildings. The search and rescue operation is still underway,” said Sutopo Nugroho, who also said thousands of rescuers, including soldiers, had been deployed.

Maj Gen Tatang Sulaiman said four people had been rescued alive from the rubble and he believed there might be four or five more still buried, though he did not say whether they were alive.

“Hopefully we would be able to finish the evacuation from the rubble before sunset,” he said.