A shallow 6.5-magnitude earthquake hits Indonesia’s Aceh province at 5am on Wednesday in the same location struck by a massive quake and tsunami in 2004.
The quake left at least 97 people killed, 73 injured and many missing. Rescue agencies are still filtering through the rubble for survivors.
The quake has also completely destroyed many homes, shops and mosques in Pidie Jaya, striking many residents as they were preparing for early prayers.
Since the earthquake damaged the local hospital in Pidie Jaya, extra medical personnel were transported to the location. Officials say over 200 shops and houses were completely destroyed, 14 mosques collapsed and school was disrupted for almost 10,000 children.
The National Board for Disaster Management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said of the event: “The earthquake was felt very strongly and many people panicked and rushed outdoors as houses collapsed.”
“The death toll could still rise,” he said. “Now our priority is the search and rescue operation. We have to move so fast to save them.”
Khairul Nova, an official at Aceh search rescue agency said: “Dozens are missing but we don’t have accurate data on the total yet.”
The US Geological Survey said the quake was at a depth of only 8.2km, 19km Southeast of the coastal town of Sigli.
Many fearing another tsunami in the area, the Indonesian disaster management agency said, “no tsunami warning has been issued”, but there were at least five aftershocks felt within hours after the initial strike.
Regardless, many residents still fled to the hills in fear of another tsunami. Fitri Abidin, a woman living with her husband and kids near the epicenter of the quake, said:
“It terrified me. I was having difficulty breathing or walking. We ran to a nearby hill, because our house is near a beach. We were afraid a tsunami can come at any time.”