Meureudu, Dec 8: Rescue workers, soldiers and police combed through the rubble of a devastated town in Indonesia's Aceh province today, resuming a search for earthquake survivors that was halted at night by rain and blackouts.
Nearly 100 people died in the shallow and powerful quake that struck northeast Sumatra before dawn on Wednesday. Hundreds were injured and dozens of buildings were destroyed.
The worst damage appears to be in Pidie Jaya district near the epicenter but assessments of the region are still underway. Some people spent the night outdoors while thousands of others took refuge in mosques and temporary shelters.
Many were homeless after the magnitude 6.5 quake destroyed or damaged their homes 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 December 26, 2004, earthquake that struck off Sumatra.
The magnitude 9.1 quake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 100,000 Acehnese. Aceh's disaster mitigation agency said Thursday the death toll had risen by 1 to 98 and more than 8,000 displaced people were at several shelters in Pidie Jaya.
The Indonesian government has 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.
Members of one rescue team told The Associated Press they hadn't given up hope of finding survivors. Humanitarian organization CARE said it would was leading a joint assessment mission of four international aid organizations.
"It will take several more days to get a full picture of the impact," CARE's Indonesia director Helen Vanwel said in a statement. "We know from experience that after an earthquake of such a scale, people urgently need water, shelter, food and medicine," she said.
The Indonesian Red Cross deployed emergency response teams and announced bank accounts for donations.