Thou­sands take refuge in mosques af­ter deadly earth­quake in Aceh

Nearly 100 killed as res­cue e≠orts con­tinue in hard-hit prov­ince

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Heri Juanda, Niniek Karmini and Stephen Wright

meureudu, in­done­sia» Thou­sands of peo­ple in the In­done­sian prov­ince of Aceh took refuge for the night in mosques and tem­po­rary shel­ters af­ter a strong earth­quake Wed­nes­day killed nearly 100 peo­ple and de­stroyed dozens of build­ings.

Some were home­less af­ter the quake made their houses un­safe and oth­ers were too scared to re­turn home. Killer quakes oc­cur reg­u­larly in the re­gion, where many live with the ter­ri­fy­ing mem­ory of a gi­ant Dec. 26, 2004, earth­quake that struck off Su­ma­tra. The mag­ni­tude-9.1 quake trig­gered a dev­as­tat­ing tsunami that killed more than 100,000 Acehnese.

Maj. Gen. Tatang Su­laiman, chief of the army in Aceh prov­ince, said at least 97 died in the mag­ni­tude-6.5 quake that hit be­fore dawn Wed­nes­day, while four peo­ple had been pulled from the rub­ble alive. The In­done­sian govern­ment de­clared a two-week emer­gency pe­riod in Aceh and some aid was al­ready reach­ing hard-hit ar­eas.

The res­cue ef­fort in­volv­ing thou­sands of search of­fi­cials, vil­lagers, sol­diers and po­lice is con­cen­trated on Meureudu, a se­verely af­fected town in Pi­die Jaya district near the epi­cen­ter. Ex­ca­va­tors and res­cue teams re­moved de­bris from shop houses and other build­ings where peo­ple were be­lieved buried.

The pace of the search slowed af­ter night fall, ham­pered by rain and black­outs.

The U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said the earth­quake was cen­tered about 12 miles south­east of Sigli, a town near the north­ern tip of Su­ma­tra, at a depth of 11 miles. It did not gen­er­ate a tsunami.

Siti Rukiah, 51, a mother of four, was among the many peo­ple tak­ing refuge in lo­cal mosques. She and about 100 other peo­ple from Pante Raja, a sea­side vil­lage in Pi­die Jaya district, fled to Nur Ab­dul­lah mosque lo­cated on higher ground in a nearby ham­let.

“I’m re­ally scared about a tsunami,” said Rukiah, whose brother and neigh­bors died in the 2004 dis­as­ter.

Aceh’s dis­as­ter mit­i­ga­tion agency said more than 600 peo­ple were in­jured. The na­tional dis­as­ter agency said about 245 build­ings were se­ri­ously dam­aged or de­stroyed in Pi­die Jaya and neigh­bor­ing Bireuen district, in­clud­ing 14 mosques.

Vil­lager Ah­mad Salam said he and his fam­ily couldn’t sleep in their house be­cause its roof was dam­aged and rain was pour­ing in. The fam­ily went to the same mosque they took shel­ter in af­ter the 2004 dis­as­ter.

“Even af­ter 12 years, it feels like yes­ter­day that the tsunami washed away my house,” Sal­man said.

Chaideer Mahyuddin, AFP/Getty Im­ages

Res­i­dents and mem­bers of a search-and-res­cue team carry the body of an earth­quake vic­tim in Pi­die Jaya, In­done­sia. At least 97 peo­ple were killed and dozens are feared trapped in rub­ble af­ter Wed­nes­day’s tem­blor.

The As­so­ci­ated Press Source: Map­s4News

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