BAH, Indonesia (AFP) – Aid began to trickle in to devastated villages in Indonesia's Aceh province on Thursday where thousands have been left homeless after a powerful earthquake that killed at least 30 people.
The 6.1-magnitude tremor sparked landslides, flattened buildings and injured hundreds in the natural disaster-prone province, where a tsunami triggered by an earthquake in 2004 claimed more than 170,000 lives.
The quake, which struck Tuesday in Aceh's mountainous interior, caused a mosque to collapse in one village, killing six children as they took part in a Koran reading session.
The Red Cross said that some 5,000 people have fled their homes and many are in desperate need of food, blankets and shelter.
Many villages in the worst-affected districts of Central Aceh and Bener Meriah had been cut off following the quake.
By Thursday many landslides blocking roads had been cleared and aid was beginning to arrive, said the national disaster agency.
"Today our priority is to put up tents for people who have taken refuge. They are also in desperate need of blankets," said agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
He said Thursday that 30 people were confirmed dead, another 12 were still missing and 275 had been injured. More than 300 buildings have also been damaged, according to the agency.
Four trucks from the local branch of the Red Cross were on their way to the worst-hit areas, said Fauzi Husaini, an Aceh-based official from the aid group.
They were carrying hundreds of mats, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, and blankets as well as cooking equipment, clothes and toiletries, he said.
Aid was yet to reach the village of Bah, where search and rescue teams were using shovels to clear a landslide under which four victims were believed to be buried, said an AFP reporter at the scene.
"It is now in the hands of God," Maliki, the father of a 12-year-old boy believed to be buried in the landslide, told AFP.
"But I still want to see my son, whether he is alive or dead," added Maliki, who gave only one name.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.