Strong quake in Indonesia's Aceh province kills 5

July 2, 2013 8:26:51 AM PDT
A strong earthquake struck Indonesia's Aceh province on Tuesday, killing at least one person and leaving two others missing. Many houses were damaged and dozens of villagers were injured

The magnitude-6.1 quake struck at a depth of just 10 kilometers (6 miles) and was centered 55 kilometers (34 miles) west of the town of Bireun on the western tip of Sumatra island, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Five people were killed and at least 25 others were hospitalized in Bener Meriah, the worst-hit area, said deputy district chief Rusli M. Saleh. He said they were killed by a landslide and by rubble from collapsing houses.

"We are now concentrating on searching for people who may be trapped under the rubble," Saleh said. More than 100 houses and buildings were damaged in the district, he said.

At least five people were injured in Takengon, the capital of Central Aceh district, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

"I see many houses were damaged and their roofs fell onto some people," said Bensu Elianita, a 22-year-old resident of Bukit Sama village in Central Aceh district. "Many people were injured, but it is difficult to evacuate them due to traffic jams."

She said people in the village ran out of their homes in panic and screamed for help. At least two houses were totally flattened, she said, adding that the quake also caused a power failure in the village.

The quake also caused concern among officials attending a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Medan, the capital of neighboring North Sumatra province. They were escorted from the second-floor meeting room by security officers.

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean.

In 2004, a huge earthquake off Aceh triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people across Asia.

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