An Acehnese girl walks past a collapsed mosque minater following an earthquake in Pidie, Aceh province on December 7. Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP
An Acehnese girl walks past a collapsed mosque minater following an earthquake in Pidie, Aceh province on December 7. Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP

Nearly 100 killed as earthquake rocks Indonesia’s Aceh province



MEUREUDO, INDONESIA // A strong undersea earthquake rocked Indonesia’s Aceh province early on Wednesday, killing at least 97 people and sparking a frantic rescue effort in the rubble of dozens of collapsed and damaged buildings.

Maj Gen Tatang Sulaiman, chief of the army in Aceh province, said at least 97 died while four people were pulled from the rubble alive. Another four or five are known to be buried, but he did not say if they were dead or alive.

“Hopefully we would be able to finish the evacuation from the rubble before sunset,” said Gen Sulaiman.

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 national disaster mitigation agency said 273 people were injured, about a quarter of them seriously. Some 245 buildings were seriously damaged or destroyed, mostly in Pidie Jaya, including 14 mosques and the remainder largely dwellings and shop houses. Roads also cracked and power poles toppled over.

Aiyub Abbas, the chief of Pidie Jaya district, which is located 18 kilometres southwest of the epicenter, said there is an urgent need for excavation equipment to move heavy debris and emergency supplies. TV footage showed rescue personnel taking bodies in black bags away from the rubble.

The US Geological Survey said the shallow 6.5-magnitude earthquake that struck at 5:03am was centred about 10 kilometres north of Reuleut, a town in northern Aceh, at a depth of 17 kilometres. It did not generate a tsunami.

For Acehnese, the quake was another terrifying reminder of their region’s vulnerability to natural disasters. More than 100,000 died in Aceh after the December 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.”

In the capital Jakarta, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he has ordered all government agencies to take part in the rescue efforts.

Seaside resident Fitri Abidin in Pidie Jaya said she fled with her husband and wailing children to a nearby hill after the quake jolted the family awake early in the morning. They stayed there for several hours until authorities reassured them there was no tsunami risk.

“It terrified me. I was having difficulty breathing or walking,” said Mrs Abidin.

She said her husband grabbed hold of her and carried her out of the house.

The family’s house didn’t collapse but the homes of some neighbours did and Mrs Abidin is afraid three friends were buried in building collapses.

In Pidie Jaya’s neighbouring district of Bireuen, a teacher at an Islamic building school died after being hit by falling debris, said health worker Achmad Taufiq.

About 20 people were being treated at a health centre and one person was moved to a hospital because of broken bones and a head injury, said Mr Taufiq.

Residents of the nearby town of Lhokseumawe ran out of their houses in panic during the quake and many people fled to higher ground.

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.

* Associated Press

The biog

Name: Fareed Lafta

Age: 40

From: Baghdad, Iraq

Mission: Promote world peace

Favourite poet: Al Mutanabbi

Role models: His parents 

World Cricket League Division 2

In Windhoek, Namibia - Top two teams qualify for the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, which starts on March 4.

UAE fixtures

Thursday, February 8 v Kenya; Friday, February 9 v Canada; Sunday, February 11 v Nepal; Monday, February 12 v Oman; Wednesday, February 14 v Namibia; Thursday, February 15 final

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888


Latest
Most Read
Top Videos