The death toll from a strong pre-dawn earthquake in Indonesia’s Aceh province has risen to 97, with dozens still missing as searchers continued to dig through the rubble of hundreds of collapsed buildings.
The shallow 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck 57 miles from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing the US Geological Survey.
“The death toll currently stands at 97 people, it is still expected to go up but we believe the worst is over,” Tatang Sulaiman, military chief of the Aceh command area, told the newspaper.
No tsunami followed Wednesday’s quake, but at least 12 aftershocks were recorded, officials said.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the quake struck shortly after 5 a.m. local time.
Some people got out of their homes, “but it was still dark. Some people were sleeping”, Nugroho said, adding that many were crushed in collapsed buildings.
President Joko Widodo said he has ordered all government agencies to take part in rescue efforts.
The Associated Press, reporting from Aceh, said rescue efforts were focusing on Meureudu, a severely affected town in Pidie Jaya district about 11 miles southwest of the quake’s epicenter.
Rescuers used excavators to remove rubble from shops, houses and other buildings where people were believed trapped underneath, the report said.
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