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The death toll is rising in Sumatra following a 6.5-magnitude undersea earthquake. It is the same area where an earthquake set off a tsunami in 2004 which killed more than 230,000 people.
At least 97 were killed in a powerful 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia's Aceh province, the country's disaster management agency said Wednesday.
The death toll is likely to rise as people were feared trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Mosques, stores, houses and other buildings were damaged or flattened when the earthquake struck at dawn, just as many in the conservative Muslim region prepared for morning prayers.
Indonesia's disaster management agency said it deployed several thousand rescuers, including hundreds of soldiers, to Aceh, which is located on the northern tip of Sumatra island. "We are now focusing on searching for victims and possible survivors," said Sutopo Nugroho of the national disaster management agency.
One survivor said his family was asleep when the quake struck. "We immediately ran outside the house but it crumbled. Everything from the roof to the floor collapsed, and was destroyed," Hasbi Jaya told AFP. "I looked around and all my neighbors' houses were also completely destroyed."
The US Geological Survey said the undersea earthquake hit north of Sumatra just at 5:03 a.m. (22:03 UTC) on Wednesday morning. It was centered about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the town of Reuleut in northern Aceh province at a depth of 17.2 kilometers (11 miles).
Indonesia's Climate, Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said Wednesday's quake had no potential to trigger a tsunami.
Aceh is the same region a 9.1-magnitude earthquake hit in December 2004. It triggered a tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people in fourteen countries. More than 160,000 people died in Indonesia alone, and most of those deaths occurred in Aceh.
Sumatra is a large Indonesian island west of Java, which sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
cw/jm/bw (AFP, AP)