Indonesia Earthquake Kills at Least 97
A strong undersea earthquake rocked Indonesia's Aceh province early on Wednesday, killing at least 54 people and sparking a frantic rescue effort in the rubble of dozens of collapsed and damaged buildings.

At least 97 people died Wednesday after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, the U.S. Geological Survey and other sources reported.

Indonesia's national disaster mitigation agency said 78 people suffered serious injuries and dozens more were feared trapped in collapsed and damaged buildings.

The death toll was expected to rise. It has doubled in the last few hours, Indonesia's army said.

The shallow earthquake struck at 5:03 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET Tuesday) and was centered about 6 miles north of Reuleut, a town in northern Aceh. It had a depth of 11 miles. It did not generate a tsunami.

"The earthquake was felt strongly and many people panicked and rushed outdoors as houses collapsed," Sutopo Nugroho of Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency, said in a statement.

The quake was another terrifying reminder of their region’s vulnerability to natural disasters. More than 100,000 died in Aceh after the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami.

“It was very bad, the tremors felt even stronger than 2004 earthquake,” Musman Aziz, a resident of the area, told the Associated Press. “I was so scared the tsunami was coming.”

More than 40 buildings including several mosques were flattened in the district located 11 miles southwest of the of the epicenter.

At least five aftershocks were felt following the initial quake, according to the disaster mitigation agency.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin, the AP said. The 2004 quake and tsunami killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

More than half of Indonesia's population of 148 million live in quake-prone areas.

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