At least five significant aftershocks occurred. Aceh officials confirmed on Indonesian television that at least 100 people have been killed by the earthquake.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), stated various buildings including houses, shop-houses, mosques collapsed in the Pidie Jaya district. The agency is still collecting all data. Around 45,000 people have become homeless due to the massive quake.

Earthquakes in Indonesia

Being located on the Pacific Ring of Fire (an area with a high degree of tectonic activity), Indonesia has to cope with the constant risk of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

Earthquakes are probably the biggest threat in terms of natural disasters in Indonesia as they come suddenly and can strike in populous areas, such as the bigger cities. Earthquakes with a magnitude of around five or six on the scale of Richter occur almost on a daily basis in Indonesia but usually cause no or little damage. When the magnitude becomes over seven on the scale of Richter, an earthquake can potentially do a lot of damage. Yearly, two or three earthquakes with a magnitude of seven or higher occur in Indonesia and cause casualties and damage the infrastructure or environment. Below is a selected list with recent earthquakes that caused severe damage and at least 20 fatalities:

Location Date Magnitude Casualties
Sumatra 07 December 2016       6.4     +102
Sumatra 02 July 2013       6.1        42
Sumatra 25 October 2010       7.7       435
Sumatra 30 September 2009       7.6     1,117
Java 02 September 2009       7.0        81
Sumatra 12 September 2007       8.5        23
Sumatra 06 March 2007       6.4        68
Java 17 July 2006       7.7       668
Java 26 May 2006       6.4     5,780
Sumatra 28 March 2005       8.6     1,346
Sumatra 26 December 2004       9.2    283,106

The high number of Indonesian casualties is partly inflicted by the bad state of some housing facilities and infrastructure. This is why a moderate earthquake can in fact result in many casualties, the collapse of many buildings and the displacement of many people. A World Bank publication (in October 2010) expressed its concern about the devastating effects an 8.5 magnitude earthquake can have if it would happen in a mega-city such as Jakarta.

Tsunamis in Indonesia

A submarine earthquake or volcanic eruption in the ocean can cause a tsunami water wave which can have devastating effects on the people and objects near the sea. In 2004 a large part of the world was rocked by the Indian Ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami, killing over 167,000 people in Indonesia (mainly Aceh) alone. Although a massive tsunami such as the 2004 tsunami is rare, the Sumatra region is often startled by offshore earthquakes that can potentially trigger a tsunami.

With the 2004 tsunami still fresh in mind, the level of fear is high. Often Indonesians who live in villages or cities close to the coast, flee to the hills (located more inland) after an earthquake has taken place. On average, once every five years a large tsunami happens in Indonesia, usually on the islands of Sumatra and Java. In general, damage to the infrastructure exceeds the loss of lives. There are warning systems installed on many coastal areas but there have been reports that not all of these systems are functioning properly.

Last update, 08:40 am (11/12/2016)