12 Apr 2012

Five killed in Aceh quake

8:56 pm on 12 April 2012

Five people were killed and a child critically injured when a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of northern Indonesia on Wednesday, according to the country's disaster mitigation agency.

At least two people died because of heart attacks, one died because of shock and a child was critically injured when a tree fell, a spokesperson for the agency said.

The 8.6-magnitude quake hit at 2.38pm, 434km south west of Banda Aceh and was 33km deep. It was felt as far away as southern India.

It was followed by a series of strong aftershocks, including one measuring 8.2, 615km off Banda Aceh at 4.43pm at a depth of 16km.

The quakes caused panic in Aceh, which is on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. There were reports of the ground shaking in Jakarta for up to five minutes after the first quake.

A tsunami watch was issued for Indian Ocean countries, but later lifted. Indonesian authorities say the first quake created a small wave, about 80cm high, but it did not cause any serious damage.

People in Indonesia and Thailand are returning to their homes.

The Aceh province was devastated after a 9.1-magnitude quake triggered a huge tsunami on 26 December 2004 that left 170,000 dead or missing, and that in total killed about 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean nations.

No requests for help - MFAT

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says there have been no requests for assistance from any New Zealanders in Thailand or Indonesia following the quakes and tsunami warning.

A spokesperson says the ministry has made contact with all 288 registered New Zealanders in Indonesia.

Officials are advising all New Zealanders in affected areas to continue monitoring local media in case of aftershocks.