The army chief in Indonesia’s Aceh province says the death toll in Wednesday’s earthquake has jumped to 97 from 54 as rescuers pull more bodies from the rubble. Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman says in a live television interview that four people were pulled from the rubble alive and believes there could be another four or five still buried. He didn’t say whether they were alive or not. He says: “Hopefully we would be able to finish the evacuation from the rubble before sunset.” Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says several thousand rescuers are being deployed to quake hit areas in Aceh including hundreds of soldiers.
He told a press conference that 148 million Indonesians, or more than half its population, live in quake-prone areas. Separately, the International Organization for Migration says it has sent a two-person assessment team to quake hit areas of Aceh. “They’ll be our eyes and ears on the ground and be able to give us a much clearer picture of what the needs are,” says IOM disaster preparedness project manager Peter Kern.
The director of the hospital in Pidie Jaya, the district that has taken the brunt of the quake damage, says the facility is overwhelmed with the numbers of injured. Muhammad Reza Faisal says many people are being treated in tents pitched on the grounds of the hospital, which was damaged in Wednesday’s shallow magnitude 6.5 quake.
He says five of the quake victims died at the hospital. The total death has risen to 97. Faisal says: “We are cooperating with the local army and police who lent us stretchers for the victims.” The national disaster mitigation agency says several hundred people have been injured.
Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says the death toll from the Aceh earthquake could continue to rise as people are believed trapped in the debris of collapsed buildings. He tells a news conference there is extensive damage to buildings with more than 200 shop houses and dwellings either severely damaged or flattened. Some 14 mosques collapsed and one hospital was damaged.
He says classes for about 10,000 students are disrupted due to the quake which damaged Islamic boarding schools.