Dozens killed by earthquake in Indonesia as residents feared another 'tsunami was coming'

Updated: 

INDONESIA-QUAKE/

At least 54 people have been killed by a powerful earthquake in Indonesia's Aceh province, according to the military.

Many more were injured and dozens of buildings collapsed, and a frantic rescue effort involving dozens of villagers, soldiers and police is under way in Meureudu, a severely affected town in Pidie Jaya district, which was closest to the epicentre. Excavators and rescuers were trying to remove debris from shops and other buildings where people were believed to be buried.

Pidie Jaya District chief Aiyub Abbas said 25 people were killed in that area alone. A local health agency said eight were young children.

Rescuers recover the body of a victim
(Heri Juanda/AP)

More than 40 buildings including mosques, stores and homes were flattened in the district 11 miles south-west of the epicentre, according to Abbas. Roads cracked and power poles toppled over. Abbas said there is an urgent need for excavation equipment to move heavy debris and emergency supplies.

The US Geological Survey said the shallow 6.5 magnitude earthquake was centred about six miles north of Reuleut, a town in northern Aceh, at a depth of 11 miles. It did not generate a tsunami.

For Acehnese, the quake was another reminder of their region's vulnerability to natural disasters. More than 100,000 died in Aceh after the December 26 2004 earthquake that triggered a devastating tsunami.

Rescuers carry a body bag
(Heri Juanda/AP/)

"It was very bad, the tremors felt even stronger than the 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.