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Indonesia: At least 54 killed as 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocks Aceh province

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:37 IST

At least 25 people died and hundreds were left injured after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook Aceh province on Indonesia's Sumatra island on 7 December.

The quake struck Pidie Jaya district at dawn, even as some in the predominantly Muslim region prepared for morning prayers.

According to media reports, mosques and shops were razed in the small town of Meureudu.

The head of the local disaster agency, Puteh Manaf, said the sole hospital in the district had been overwhelmed by the number of injured, reported an international news agency.

Indonesian search and rescue personnel retrieve a body from the rubble of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Pidie, Aceh province

"The data we have now is that 25 people have been killed and hundreds are estimated to have suffered injuries," an international news agency quoted Manaf as saying.

Local district secretary Iskandar Ali citing the preliminary data confirmed the death toll to be 25.

A witness said local residents were wandering the streets, unable to return to their damaged homes, reported a daily.

Meureudu resident Hasbi Jaya, 37, was quoted as saying, "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 neighbours' houses were also completely destroyed."

The injured were sent to a neighbouring district with better facilities, said deputy district chief Said Mulyadi.

Mulyadi, said that at least seven children were among the dead.

"There are many shop and houses that have caved in, and many (people) are alive but trapped," Mulyadi said.

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. A huge undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean in 2004 triggered a tsunami that engulfed parts of Aceh.

The tsunami killed more than 170,000 people in Indonesia.

First published: 7 December 2016, 10:20 IST