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7 Dec, 2016 01:55

Dozens of buildings collapse after 6.5 quake in Indonesia (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Dozens of buildings collapse after 6.5 quake in Indonesia (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in Indonesia has risen to 97 as the rescue operation in the Aceh province continues, local authorities reported. The 6.5 magnitude quake hit off coast of Sumatra Island on Wednesday.

The tremor also caused damage to buildings in the affected area and send residents fleeing in panic.

The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) confirmed that “several buildings” collapsed, including at least 10 shops and four houses in Pidie Jaya, which lies in the Aceh special region of Indonesia. Electric poles and a mosque in Bireuen district were also damaged, BNPB said.

Abbas meanwhile noted that there is an urgent demand for excavation equipment and emergency supplies to help with the rescue effort.

The shallow 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck at 5:03am local time. It was centered about 10 kilometers north of Reuleut in northern Aceh, at a depth of 17.2 kilometers, the US Geological Survey said. At least five aftershocks followed the quake, according to the local head of the Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics.

"The earthquake was felt strongly and many people panicked and rushed outdoors as houses collapsed," Sutopo Nugroho of the national disaster management agency (BNPB) said in a statement cited by Reuters.

While no tsunami warning was issued, the powerful earthquake caused heavy structural damage, with reports of casualties coming in.

"Several shophouses and homes have caved in in the Pidie Jaya district and the owners are still trapped there," the chief of the local disaster management office, told AFP. "We are now deploying heavy machines to help out and hopefully we can save the ones who are trapped."

Indonesia is accustomed to earthquakes as the country sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" in the Pacific Basin. In December 2004, a massive earthquake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed some 230,000 people in the region.

In December 2004, 170,000 people died in Indonesia after a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the northern tip of Sumatra, lasting for nearly 10 minutes and triggering a tsunami.