Indonesian Earthquake: Death Toll rises drastically

Indonesian Earthquake: Death Toll rises drastically

MEUREUDU, Indonesia (APP) - At least 52 people have died and hundreds are injured after a strong earthquake struck Aceh province on Indonesia's Sumatra island on Wednesday, an official said.

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The shallow 6.5-magnitude quake hit Pidie Jaya district at dawn, toppling homes, flattening buildings and sending people running for higher ground. There was no tsunami alert.

The death toll has continued to rise as rescue crews sift through the rubble, sometimes by hand, to find those trapped below.

"52 people have died, 73 sustained serious injuries and 200 others are lightly injured," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters.

"Those figures are expected to rise given the massive destruction."

Hundreds of homes, mosques and shops have collapsed, while a local hospital and school were heavily damaged, he added.

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The earthquake was felt across much of Aceh, which was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.