A powerful earthquake has rocked northern Indonesia leaving as many as 97 people dead and several hundred injured.
The magnitude 6.5 quake struck off the coast of Sumatra Island in the early hours of Wednesday, where dozens of buildings have collapsed and many people are feared trapped under rubble.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck just offshore at 05:03 local time (22:03 GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 8km.
A rescue operation is under way in the Aceh province and the casualty count is expected to increase.
The national disaster management agency has ruled out the possibility of a tsunami. It also said that at least five aftershocks had followed the earthquake.
The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) confirmed that “several buildings” collapsed, including at least 10 shops and four houses in Pidie Jaya, which lies in the Aceh special region of Indonesia. Electric poles and a mosque in Bireuen district were also damaged, BNPB said.
Abbas meanwhile noted that there is an urgent demand for excavation equipment and emergency supplies to help with the rescue effort.
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The shallow 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck at 5:03am local time. It was centered about 10 kilometers north of Reuleut in northern Aceh, at a depth of 17.2 kilometers, the US Geological Survey said. At least five aftershocks followed the quake, according to the local head of the Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics.
“The earthquake was felt strongly and many people panicked and rushed outdoors as houses collapsed,” Sutopo Nugroho of the national disaster management agency (BNPB) said in a statement cited by Reuters.
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While no tsunami warning was issued, the powerful earthquake caused heavy structural damage, with reports of casualties coming in.
“Several shophouses and homes have caved in in the Pidie Jaya district and the owners are still trapped there,” the chief of the local disaster management office, told AFP. “We are now deploying heavy machines to help out and hopefully we can save the ones who are trapped.”
Indonesia is accustomed to earthquakes as the country sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive earthquake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed some 230,000 people in the region.
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