Olumide Lawal with Agency Report
A 6.5 magnitude earthquake off Indonesia’s northern Aceh province, just off north-east coast of Sumatra Island has killed at least 97 people and destroyed 200 shops and homes, along with 14 mosques, a hospital and school, local officials have reported.
The US Geological Survey said the quake, Indonesia’s second major temblor in 2016 and its most severe yet, struck just offshore at 05:03 local time (22:03 GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 8km, as many residents were preparing for early morning prayers.
In March, a magnitude-7.8 quake struck off south-western coast of Sumatra but despite initial warnings, no tsunamis or deaths were registered as a result.
“We estimate the number of casualties will continue to rise as some of the residents are still likely [to be] under the rubble of the buildings. The search and rescue operation is still underway,” said Sutopo Nugroho, who also said thousands of rescuers, including soldiers, had been deployed.
Despite the lack of a tsunami warning, Sutopo said some residents had fled to find safety in the hills after the quake, adding that they are still traumatized by last big earthquake and tsunami in 2004.
The 2004 disaster killed more than 80,000 people after a tsunami swept across Indonesian region, leaving millions homeless.
Large earthquakes are relatively common around Indonesia, which sits on infamous Ring of Fire, a set of fault lines which circle Pacific Basin.
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