Banda Aceh (Indonesia): Soldiers, police and volunteers faced a tough time in fanning out bodies across the earthquake-damaged region of western Indonesia on Wednesday, scouring the debris of collapsed homes and landslides. The massive earthquake is believed to have killed at least 22 people and left 100 others injured.
The earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck on Tuesday afternoon at a depth of just 10 kilometers and was centered on the far western tip of Sumatra Island in Aceh province.
Twelve people were killed and 70 others were injured after buildings collapsed in Bener Meriah district, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. He added that the number of houses and buildings damaged in the district is still being counted.
In neighboring Central Aceh district, 10 people were killed, 140 sustained injuries and about 1,500 houses and buildings were damaged, Nugroho said. The quake also triggered landslides and forced hundreds of people to be evacuated to 10 temporary shelters.
Rescuers and other assistance teams have arrived in Bener Meriah, while the air force has dispatched a helicopter and a CN-235 aircraft to the region, Nugroho said.
"We are now concentrating on searching for people who may be trapped under the rubble," said Rusli M Saleh, the deputy district chief of Bener Meriah.
He said that at least 25 of the injured in the district have been hospitalized in intensive care unit. As the quake hit, villagers in the area ran out of their homes in panic and screamed for help.
"I saw several houses were damaged and their roofs fell on some people," Bensu Elianita, a 22-year-old resident of Bukit Sama village in Central Aceh district, said shortly after the quake hit. "Many people were injured, but it is difficult to evacuate them due to traffic jams."
The quake also caused concern among officials attending a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Medan, the capital of neighboring North Sumatra province. They were escorted from the second-floor meeting room by security officers.
Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean.
In 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Aceh triggered a tsunami that killed 2, 30,000 people in 14 countries.


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