SINGAPORE: Singapore is shocked by the "tragic loss of lives and serious damage caused by the earthquake that struck Aceh", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Wednesday (Dec 7).
"The Government of Singapore expresses our deepest condolences to the Government of Indonesia and the families of the victims in this time of grief," MFA said in a statement.
"MFA is in touch with the local authorities and Singapore stands ready to assist if required."
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said in a subsequent statement that it will be deploying two officers to Indonesia as part of a five-man ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT), under the auspices of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).
The ERAT’s primary function is to provide rapid assessment and determine the critical resources (e.g. tents, medical kits, and sanitation facilities) required for the areas affected by the earthquake, said the SCDF in its statement.
The two SCDF officers will leave for Indonesia on Thursday and are expected to be there for a week.
The 6.5-magnitude quake struck Pidie Jaya district in Aceh province at dawn and tremors were felt in the capital city of Banda Aceh.
The death toll has climbed steadily, as more bodies were pulled from the rubble of scores of shattered buildings. As of 4.30pm local time (5.30pm SG), the toll stood at 97.
Aceh suffered massive destruction in 2004 when a huge undersea quake of magnitude 9.2 struck off its coast. It triggered a tsunami that wiped out entire communities in Indonesia and other countries around the Indian Ocean.
At least five aftershocks followed Wednesday's quake but no tsunami warning was issued.
In an earlier statement, Singapore's MFA said it has contacted all Singaporeans registered in Banda Aceh following the powerful earthquake on Wednesday morning and confirmed they are safe.
"We are not aware of any Singaporeans who are affected by the incident and require consular assistance. We are in touch with local authorities to monitor the situation,” said an MFA spokesperson.