(MEUREUDU, Indonesia) — A strong undersea earthquake rocked Indonesia’s Aceh province early on Wednesday, killing at least 97 people and sparking a frantic rescue effort in the rubble of dozens of collapsed and damaged buildings.
Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman, chief of the army in Aceh province, said the deaths occurred in Pidie Jaya, the district closest to the epicenter, and in neighboring Bireuen district.
The rescue effort involving hundreds of villagers, soldiers and police is concentrated on Meureudu, a severely affected town in Pidie Jaya district. Excavators were trying to remove debris from shop houses and other buildings where people were believed buried.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a news conference that the death toll could increase.