Over 45,000 displaced in quake

JAKARTA:  More than 45,000 people have been rendered homeless due to a 6.5 magnitude earthquake which struck Aceh province in Indonesia leaving over a hundred people dead, official sources said.
In the town of Meureudu in Pidie Jaya regency, personnel from four main agencies including the Indonesian military, the National Disaster Management Authority and the police deployed heavy machinery and a rescue dog in the search on Saturday.
Between 200 and 300 people from those agencies took part in the search, and six mechanical excavators were used.
The rescue dog named ‘Beta’ is trained to bark when it senses something such as a body or a survivor.
The canine was reportedly taken to Nepal following that country’s devastating earthquake in April, 2015.
“We have 45,300 people evacuating in several places as of Saturday morning,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, adding that the number of displaced had almost doubled since Friday due to an influx of new data.
The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake earlier this week levelled hundreds of homes, mosques and businesses across Aceh province, one of the areas worst affected by the devastating 2004 tsunami.
More than 700 people were injured in the quake, many seriously, according to the country’s   disaster agency.
Most of the displaced spent the night outdoors in tents near their ruined homes as hundreds refused to move into shelters fearing aftershocks, Nugroho added.
The army has established kitchens, shelters and a field hospital in the hard-hit town of Meureudu to help the region’s overwhelmed health facilities.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Meureudu on Friday, pledging to rebuild the area’s devastated communities as he called on Indonesians to pray for their countrymen.
The archipelago nation experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.
A huge undersea earthquake in 2004 triggered a tsunami that engulfed several countries around the Indian Ocean, killing more than 170,000 people in Indonesia alone, the vast majority in Aceh.
The province lies on the northern tip of Sumatra island, which is particularly prone to quakes.
In June a 6.5-magnitude quake struck off the west of Sumatra, damaging scores of buildings and injuring eight people. — IANS/AFP