Deadly earthquake strikes Indonesia

Last updated 06:53 03/07/2013

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A strong earthquake has struck Indonesia's Aceh province overnight, killing six children and trapping 14 others when a mosque collapsed during a Koran reading session, reports say.

The death toll from the 6.1-magnitude quake was 11, according to reports.

More than 300 houses and buildings were damaged across the province.

The earthquake struck at a depth of just 10 kilometres and was centred 55 kilometres west of the town of Bireun on the western tip of Sumatra island, the US Geological Survey said.

"Six children were found dead under the rubble of a mosque flattened by the quake," the head of the disaster management agency in central Aceh district, Subhan Sahara, told AFP.

"Our search and rescue are struggling to evacuate an estimated 14 children still trapped under the rubble.

"I hope they can be found alive but the chances are very slim."

Five other people were killed and 70 others were injured by a landslide or collapsing buildings in Bener Meriah, the worst-hit area, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. He said two people were still missing in the landslide.

One hundred and forty people were injured in neighboring Central Aceh district, Nugroho said.

At least 25 of the injured in Bener Meriah were hospitalised in intensive care, deputy district chief Rusli M. Saleh said.

"We are now concentrating on searching for people who may be trapped under the rubble," Saleh said. More than 100 houses and buildings were damaged in the district, he said.

"I see many houses were damaged and their roofs fell onto some people," said Bensu Elianita, a 22-year-old resident of Bukit Sama village in Central Aceh district. "Many people were injured, but it is difficult to evacuate them due to traffic jams."

She said people in the village ran out of their homes in panic and screamed for help. At least two houses were totally flattened, she said, adding that the quake also caused a power failure in the village.

The quake also caused concern among officials attending a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Medan, the capital of neighbouring North Sumatra province. They were escorted from the second-floor meeting room by security officers.

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean.

In 2004, a huge earthquake off Aceh triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people across Asia.

- AP and AAP

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