Jakarta, December 7: At least 54 people were killed and several feared trapped in rubble in a strong earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Aceh province of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island on Wednesday morning according to the head of the Aceh Red Cross. The 6.5-magnitude quake struck Pidie Jaya district at dawn, as some in the predominantly Muslim region prepared for morning prayers. No tsunami alert was issued.
Mosques and shops were flattened in the small town of Meureudu. Puteh Manaf, the head of the disaster agency said that the hospital is occupied by the number of injured people. The data states that about 25 people have been killed and hundreds are estimated to have suffered injuries, he added.
The local hospital was struggling to cope, with the injured being treated on the ground outside the front of the building. Patients were also being sent to a neighboring district with greater facilities, said deputy district chief Said Mulyadi.
Meureudu resident Hasbi Jaya, 37, said his family was asleep when the powerful quake struck."We immediately ran outside the house but it crumbled. Everything from the roof to the floor collapsed, and was destroyed. "I looked around and all my neighbors’ houses were also completely destroyed,” he said.
Rescue operations were under way to find those believed trapped beneath the rubble, with heavy machinery being used to shift the debris.
At least five aftershocks followed the quake, said Eridawati, local head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. The US Geological Survey upgraded the magnitude to 6.5 from an initial reading of 6.4 and issued a yellow alert for expected fatalities and damage.