Indonesia quake death toll jumps to 97

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – 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.

A woman in the worst-hit district near the epicenter of Indonesia’s earthquake says she fled with her husband and children to a nearby hill after the quake jolted the family awake early Wednesday. They stayed there for several hours until authorities reassured them there was no tsunami risk.

Seaside resident Fitri Abidin in Pidie Jaya district says: “It terrified me. I was having difficulty breathing or walking.”

She says her husband grabbed hold of her and carried her out of the house as their children were crying.

She says: “We ran to a nearby hill, because our house is near a beach. We were afraid a tsunami can come at any time.”

The family’s house didn’t collapse but the homes of some neighbors did. Abidin is traumatized because she believes three friends were buried in building collapses.

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