Aid has begun to reach communities in Aceh after almost 100 people were killed and dozens of buildings destroyed when a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the Indonesian province early Wednesday morning.

Authorities have said at least 97 people died after the quake struck about 5am near the northern tip of Sumatra. Thousands of police and soldiers have been mobilised in the response and at least four people were reportedly pulled alive from the rubble. The Indonesian Government has declared a two week emergency period.

Meg Quartermaine, Oxfam Australia's humanitarian manager, said search and rescue efforts were being hampered by poor weather conditions last night, noting that with aftershocks continuing and reports of serious damage to some buildings and infrastructure, "there is not a moment to waste".

She said while Oxfam will be distributing hygiene kits and tarpaulins, and had emergency response experts on stand-by to travel to the worst-affected areas if needed, "[o]ur priority now is to get an expert assessment of the earthquake’s impact in order to offer aid in the most appropriate and effective way to those people who are affected the most".

The earthquake comes less than a month before the 12th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami, caused by a massive earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, in which more than 100,000 were killed in Aceh.

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