Powerful Earthquake Leaves People Buried In Rubble In Indonesia

JAKARTA — Indonesian search and rescue teams used earth movers to clear rubble after dozens of buildings collapsed in the northern province of Aceh when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck on Wednesday, killing at least one person.

“The earthquake was felt strongly and many people panicked and rushed outdoors as houses collapsed,” Sutopo Nugroho of the national disaster management agency said in a statement.

He said one person had been killed and several injured.

AFP via Getty Images

The earthquake led to thecollapse of a mosque minaret in thetown of Pidie in northern Sumatra.

Some media reports in Indonesia quoted Aceh officials as saying at least 18 people had been confirmed dead and 30 injured. It was not immediately possible to verify those reports.

Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, was devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami centered on its western coast near the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, on Dec. 26, 2004.

Wednesday’s quake was centered on the east coast, about 170 km (105 miles) from Banda Aceh. Images on television and social media showed buildings reduced to rubble, fallen electricity poles, and people gathering outside at street corners.

“The search and rescue operation is underway and we are using heavy machinery to look for victims,” said Risky Hidayat, an official at the provincial search and rescue agency.

A volunteer for the Indonesian Red Crescent in Pidie Jaya regency in Aceh described scenes of heavy damage and said many people had been injured.

“There isn’t enough medical staff around,” Muklis told TVOne.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck just after 5 a.m. local time (2200 GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 17 km (11 miles) on Aceh’s northeastern coast. No tsunami warning was issued.

At least five aftershocks were felt in the hours after the initial quake, the disaster management agency 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.

(Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Paul Tait)

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 December 07, 2016 at 02:36AM

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