Jakarta [Indonesia], Dec. 7 : The death toll has risen to 52 in Indonesia's a earthquake struck Aceh province, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the shallow quake hit 10 kilometres north of Reuleuet at 5.03 a.m. local time at a depth of 17.2 kilometres. "The earthquake was felt strongly and many people panicked and rushed outdoors as houses collapsed," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Sutopo Nugroho of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), as saying in a statement.
The head of Aceh Indonesia Red Cross, Rudianto said that many people were trapped alive inside buildings and were being rescued by using heavy machinery.
He said that their focus was on evacuating people as many are still believed to be trapped alive. Asserting that the death toll was climbing quickly, the deputy regent of Pidie Jaya said, "I am in the hospital now.
We are sending the urgent cases to other hospitals [outside Pidie Jaya]. We can't treat them here. We have more heavy machinery coming to help evacuate." BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that earthquake victims were being sent to the hospitals and the national and regional disaster management agencies are monitoring the situation following the earthquake.
The world's largest archipelago, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
The quake could have been felt by people as far as 836 kilometres away, according to Geoscience Australia, and damage by the quake could stretch to as far as 67 kilometres from the epicenter.
There is no tsunami threat to the Australian mainland. It may be recalled that Aceh was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami..