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Indonesia quake: Search for survivors continues

Rescuers are continuing their search for survivors in Indonesia’s Aceh province a day after a powerful quake struck the area killing 97 people.

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The magnitude 6.5 tremor damaged or toppled more than two hundred buildings, and many are still feared to be trapped under rubble in Pidie Jaya.

Thousands of people who lost their homes are taking refuge in shelters.

In 2004, a huge undersea quake off the coast of Aceh caused a tsunami that killed more than 160,000 in Indonesia.

There was no tsunami after Wednesday’s tremor, which the US Geological Survey said struck just offshore early in the morning at a depth of 8km (5 miles).

President Joko Widodo, who is currently in Bali, has told reporters he will visit Aceh soon but has not given a date yet.

Rescue workers used diggers and sometimes their bare hands to comb the rubble overnight on Wednesday.

About 245 buildings were damaged or destroyed in Pidie Jaya – the area worst hit by the quake – and the neighbouring Bireuen district, including homes, shops and mosques.

The powerful quake also cracked roads and toppled electricity poles.

Local disaster agency head Puteh Manaf told AFP news agency that there was a power shortage in Pidie Jaya.

Pidie Jaya is along the north coast of Aceh, and has a population of about 150,000. It is about 110 km (68 miles) from the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, which also felt Wednesday’s earthquake.

Officials said many people in Aceh were in need of basic supplies like food and water.

The Indonesian Red Cross said it was sending water trucks, ambulances, evacuation vehicles and relief supplies.

Hundreds of soldiers and police officers have been deployed to set up more shelters – where many people are staying because of fears of tsunami and aftershocks.

One resident called Hamdani told the BBC: “This earthquake was stronger than the 2004 tsunami, the terror and shakes from this earthquake were stronger.

We immediately ran outside. Our house is close to the sea so we wanted to get to safer ground; we learnt that lesson from the tsunami.”

The province’s disaster mitigation agency said more than 600 people were injured by the quake.

The one functioning hospital in Pidie Jaya was quickly overwhelmed by the flood of patients.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the Ring of Fire – the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

The island of Sumatra has been hit by several earthquakes this year.

BBC

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