At least 92 people have been killed after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Aceh, the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island in the early hours of Wednesday, with hundreds trapped and injured, Indonesia’s disaster agency said.
The earlier figure of 52 dead was revised up significantly by the Indonesian military, after more bodies were recovered from the rubble, according to Aceh military commander Major General Tatang Sulaiman.
“So far 92 people have been killed and the number keeps growing,” Sulaiman told AFP.
The province’s disaster mitigation agency said more than 600 people were injured. The national disaster agency said some 245 buildings were seriously damaged or destroyed, mostly in Pidie Jaya, including 14 mosques. The rest were mainly dwellings and shop houses. Roads also cracked and power poles toppled over.
The rescue effort involving thousands of villagers, soldiers and police is concentrated on Meureudu, a severely affected town in Pidie Jaya district. Excavators were trying to remove debris from shop houses and other buildings where people were believed buried.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck just after 5 a.m. local time at a depth of 17 km (11 miles). No tsunami warning was issued. At least five aftershocks were felt in the hours after the initial quake, the disaster management agency said.
For Acehnese, the quake was a terrifying reminder of their region’s vulnerability to natural disasters. More than 100,000 died in Aceh after the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami.
“It was very bad, the tremors felt even stronger than 2004 earthquake,” said Musman Aziz, a Meureudu resident. “I was so scared the tsunami was coming.”
The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. The 2004 quake and tsunami killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Aceh.