This morning, an undersea earthquake off the coast of Indonesia's Aceh province, rocked the nation killing at least 54 people (52 in Pidie Jaya, the district closest to the epicenter and 2 in the adjacent Bireuen district), sparking a massive rescue effort in the ruined remains of countless damaged buildings. According to the national disaster mitigation agency, an additional 78 people have suffered serious injuries.
Worst damaged in Pidie Jaya, is the town of Meureudu, where villagers, soldiers and police are trying to remove debris from shop houses and other buildings where people are believed to be buried.
Over three dozen buildings were flattened in Pidie Jaya, located located 11 miles southwest of the epicenter, according to the district chief, Aiyub Abbas. Cracked roads and toppled power poles litter the district. Pidie Jaya is in desperate need of excavation equipment to move heavy debris and emergency supplies.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the shallow 6.5-magnitude earthquake that struck at 5:03 a.m. (2203 GMT Tuesday) was centered about 6 miles north of Reuleut, a town in northern Aceh, at a depth of 11 miles, which – thankfully for them – did not generate a tsunami.
The world's largest archipelago, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. The 2004 quake and tsunami killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Aceh.
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