Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A strong magnitude 6 earthquake has struck the island of Aceh, in the western part of Indonesia, killing at least one person and leaving 50 injured. The news from the area where the earthquake hit is still sketchy, but from first reports it seems that the number of victims will increase in the coming hours. The earth began to shake around 5:22 am local time, causing panic in many villages in the north of the island of Sumatra. The Department of Meteorology and Geophysics denied the possibility of a tsunami following the earthquake, the main earthquake followed a few minutes later, then an aftershock with a magnitude of 4.7.
The epicenter of the earthquake is 15 km south-west of the city of Banda Aceh - the capital of the province of Aceh, the only one in Indonesia where Shariah law is in act - at a depth of 37 km, underground. The victim and the injured are mostly children and elderly of the village of Geumpang, in the sub-district Tangse, Pidie regency. The villagers were surprised in their sleep and in their panic, were unable to get to safety with their children.
Damage has been registered in three sub-districts in the regency of Pidie, but the toll provided by the police in Aceh is still provisional, pending a more thorough estimate by rescue teams. Among the most affected areas Mane, Geumpang and Glumpang Tiga. Apriyadi, head of the local Civil Protection, told AFP newsagency that "the victim is a child of eight from Pidie district, killed by a cabinet that collapsed during the earthquake."
The Indonesian archipelago is made up of thousands of islands and atolls surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, in an area known by scientists as "Ring of Fire". It is characterized by intense volcanic and land-based activity, caused by the collision of several continental plates. Memories of the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the region in December 2004 is still alive, with an epicenter off the coast of Aceh, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths across Asia. On 30 October 2009, another strong earthquake struck the area of Padang causing around 700 deaths. More than 180 homes were razed.