A strong earthquake rocked Indonesia's Aceh province early Wednesday, killing nearly 100 people and sparking a frantic rescue effort in the rubble of dozens of collapsed and damaged buildings. Maj. Gen. Tatang Sulaiman, chief of the army in Aceh, says at least 97 died while four people were pulled from the rubble alive, the AP reports. A rescue effort involving thousands of villagers, soldiers, and police is concentrated on Meureudu, a severely affected town in the Pidie Jaya district. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency says at least 273 people were injured, about a quarter of them seriously. Some 245 buildings were seriously damaged or destroyed, mostly in Pidie Jaya, including 14 mosques.
The director of Chik Ditiro General Hospital in Pidie Jaya says the facility, which was damaged by the quake, is overwhelmed with the numbers of injured, and many people are being treated in tents pitched on its grounds. He says five of the quake victims died at the hospital. The US Geological Survey says the shallow 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck at 5:03am local time about 12 miles southeast of Sigli, a town near the northern tip of Aceh. It didn't generate a tsunami. For Acehnese, the quake was a 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. (Read more Indonesia stories.)