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6.4-magnitude quake triggers panic in Indonesia's Aceh

07 December 2016, MVT 11:42
At least 25 people died and hundreds were injured after a strong earthquake struck off Aceh province on Indonesia's Sumatra island on December 7, local officials said. / AFP PHOTO / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN
07 December 2016, MVT 11:42

A strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck off Aceh province in the north of the Indonesian island of Sumatra early Wednesday, seismologists said, causing panic and some reported damage.

The shallow quake hit 10 kilometres (six miles) north of Reuleuet at 5:03 am local time (2203 GMT Tuesday), the US Geological Survey said. There was no tsunami alert.

The earthquake was felt across much of Aceh, which was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, said Eridawati, local head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, who like many Indonesians go by one name.

In the town of Sigli, people panicked and fled their houses to seek shelter away from the sea.

"We are now evacuating to Tijue (around 3 kilometres from Sigli) because we are afraid of a tsunami," said Nilawati, whose house is near the sea.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but reports said that electricity in the district of Pidie had been cut and a local university in Bireuen district had suffered some damage.

Further details on the extent of the damage were not immediately available.

At least five aftershocks followed the quake, Eridawati said.

In June, a 6.5-magnitude quake struck off the west of Sumatra damaging scores of buildings and injuring eight people.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.

Sumatra is particularly prone to quakes. Aceh province on the tip of the island was devastated by the quake-triggered tsunami in 2004 that killed more than 170,000 people in Indonesia and tens of thousands more in other countries around the Indian Ocean.

Jakarta, Indonesia | AFP

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