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Death toll rises after earthquake in Indonesia's Aceh

Dozens of Indonesians remain missing in rubble in Aceh province after its magnitude 6.5 earthquake. So far, the death toll has reached 97. Worst-hit is Aceh's eastern Pidie Jaya area.

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Deadly earthquake rocks Indonesia's Aceh province

Aceh, Indonesia's western peninsula that was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2004, was wracked Wednesday by a shallow pre-dawn earthquake that caught many people still asleep.

Homes crumbled in the hard-hit town of Meureudu. Residents fled to higher ground fearing a tidal wave as in 2004, but this time no alert was issued.

Injured survivors were treated outside damaged clinics in Pidie Jaya, an area 170 kilometers (105 miles) from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital at the tip of Sumatra island.

Watch video 01:04

Indonesia quake death toll approaches 100

"It was pitch black because the electricity was out," said Hasbi Jaya, who pulled his two children unconscious from the rubble of their home. 

"Everything was destroyed," Jaya said. "All my neighbors' homes were completely flattened.

Pidie Jaya district chief Aiyub Abbas pleaded for excavation equipment to move debris and deliveries of emergency supplies. Only four persons had been pulled alive from rubble, said an army spokesman.

Missing at 10 locations

Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said people were still missing at about 10 locations. Several thousand rescuers were being deployed, including soldiers.

Its spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said more than 200 shops and dwellings had either been severly damaged or flattened.

Karte Map Infografik Erdbeben Sumatra Aceh Reuleuet ENG

The earthquake struck just before dawn

Some 14 mosques had collapsed. Damage to Islamic boarding schools had disrupted tuition for 10,000 pupils.

The Indonesian branch of the Red Cross said water trucks had already been sent as well as hygiene kits, tarpaulins and body bags.

The US Geological Survey, which tracks tremors worldwide, said Aceh's latest earthquake struck at 5.03 a.m. Wednesday and was centered offshore at a depth of 17 kilometers.

Afterwards, at least five sizeable aftershocks were felt.

Electrical blackouts

Local disaster agency head Puteh Manaf said late Wednesday that power outages continued.

"Some places have generators, but there are not many. If it rains there will be disease," he added.

The huge undersea earthquake of 2004 triggered a tsunami that engulfed parts of Aceh and other countries bordering the Indian Ocean, including Sri Lanka and Thailand, killing more than 170,000 people in Indonesia alone.

ipj/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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