Rescuers use excavators to search for victims under the rubble of collapsed buildings after an earthquake in Aceh province, Indonesia.
Rescuers use excavators to search for victims under the rubble of collapsed buildings after an earthquake in Aceh province, Indonesia. Heri Juanda

Aceh's residents hunker down

THOUSANDS of residents in Indonesia's Aceh province spent the night in mosques and temporary shelters after Wednesday's strong earthquake, which killed nearly 100 people and destroyed dozens of buildings.

Some became homeless when the quake made their houses unsafe. Others were too concerned to return home.

At least 97 people died in the magnitude-6.5 quake, which hit before dawn. Four people had been pulled alive from the rubble.

The Indonesian Government has declared a two-week emergency in Aceh and some aid is reaching hard-hit areas.

Thousands of search officials, villagers, soldiers and police are focusing on Meureudu, a town hit badly in Pidie Jaya district, near the epicentre.

Rescue teams used shovels and excavators to remove debris from shops, houses and other buildings where people were believed buried.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake centre was about 19km south-east of Sigli, a town near the northern tip of Sumatra, and 17km underground. It did not generate a tsunami.

Indonesia's disaster agencies said more than 600 people were injured and about 245 buildings were seriously damaged or destroyed in Pidie Jaya and neighbouring Bireuen district, including 14 mosques.



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