SUMATRA, INDONESIA―A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck Sumatra, Indonesia on Wednesday, December 7. The earthquake struck hardest in the Pidie Jaya District, a Aceh province in Sumatra. According to Indonesia’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency, at least 100 men, women, and children were killed, and 136 critically injured.
The quake damaged hundreds of structures and even leveled homes, mosques, and businesses. The Pidie Jaya hospital was among the number of buildings damaged. Additional medical personnel and resources had to be dispatched to the district.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered immediate assistance to be sent to Aceh after the earthquake hit. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Board for Disaster Management addressed the post-quake efforts as well as the death toll, stating that it could still rise.
“Now our priority is the search and rescue operation. We have to move so fast to save them,” Sutopo said.
Staff from the International Organization for Migration have also been sent to Aceh to help with the rescue efforts. Humanitarian organization Oxfam has assisted. Aceh partners of Oxfam say that despite bad weather conditions and the darkness of night creating hinders during the search and rescues, ongoing assessments and the distribution of emergency supplies are being carried out.
The epicenter of the 6.5 earthquake was 12 miles outside the Aceh province coast town or Sigli, resulting in no tsunami warning. Sutopo reported that residents were still fleeing to the hills for safety after the quake. “They are still traumatized by the last big earthquake and tsunami in 2004.”
Indonesia sits on a set of fault lines known as ‘The Ring of Fire,’ named after its circle shape around the Pacific Basin. Indonesia is prone to large scale earthquakes. Wednesday’s earthquake ranks as the country’s second major temblor in 2016 and the most severe. The largest earthquake in Indonesia this year was in March off the southwestern Sumatra coast.