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Disasters

Tens of thousands displaced following Aceh earthquake

At least 43,000 people have been displaced after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Indonesian province earlier this week. Nearly a hundred people were killed and thousands of buildings damaged.

The number of people in need of shelter continued to rise on Saturday as relief efforts persisted in Aceh's three districts close to the epicenter of Wednesday's quake.

"The basic needs of refugees must be met during the evacuation," National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters. Relief groups were coordinating their efforts from a command post in the worst-hit district of Pidie Jaya, he added.

Rescue workers were also using sniffer dogs to find survivors and dead bodies in Meureudu in Pidie Jaya district, where a whole row of shops was flattened by the tremors. Four other locations were being searched intensively by rescue officials.

Watch video 01:04

Indonesia quake death toll approaches 100

Help also arrived from Australia, where the government announced it would provide 1 million Australian dollars ($744,000, 705,000 euros) to the Indonesian Red Cross. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was ready to respond to other requests from the government in Jakarta. A day earlier, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo traveled to the province of Aceh and promised to rebuild communities.

A 6.5 magnitude quake had struck the province on Wednesday this week, just before dawn. The epicenter was northeast of Pidie Jaya and at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). More than 11,000 buildings were damaged and over 100 people killed.

Indonesia is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are common. In December 2001, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off Sumatra Island, spurring a tsunami that killed 230,000 people. In Aceh, 180,000 lost their lives in the tragedy.

mg/jlw (dpa, AP)

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