Church organizations in Indonesia are scrambling to provide emergency relief for survivors of a powerful earthquake that killed more than a 100 people and left hundreds injured in Aceh province in Sumatra on Dec.7. The 6.5 magnitude quake also severely damaged hundreds of buildings in the predominantly Muslim province, including many homes 18 mosques and several ordinary and religious schools. No churches were reported damaged by the quake. Hundreds of troops and other rescuers are facing a race against time to find survivors buried under the rubble and evacuate residents amid fears of powerful aftershocks. Safrina Sagala of Caritas said Medan Archdiocese is ready send assistance to survivors. "Teams are being sent to ascertain what is needed," she told ucanews.com
A Caritas team from Jakarta was to arrive in Medan later on Dec. 8 to see how best to help survivors, she said. National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said as of Dec. 8 the quake had killed 102 people, injured more than 750, and left at least 3,000 homeless. Most casualties occurred in Pidie Jaya, Bireuen and Pidie districts, he said. "Rescue operations are ongoing and it's likely the number of fatalities will increase," Sutopo told reporters. Pidie Jaya mayor Aiyub Ben Abbas has appealed for emergency aid and financial support from the government. "We really need financial resources for rebuilding work," he told Kompas.tv. The Social Affairs Ministry has provided emergency aid including food, clothing, tents, mattresses, and medical supplies. Relief organizations such as the Indonesian Red Cross have also sent aid to Aceh. The quake's epicenter was 106 kilometers northwest of Banda Aceh at a depth of 15 kilometers, according to Daryono, head of the earthquake and tsunami warning division of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. Sumatra sits on what has been called the Pacific "ring of fire", a seismically active area skirting the world's largest ocean where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes often occur. On Dec.26, 2004, Aceh was devastated by a tsunami following a powerful earthquake that killed more than 105,000 people in the province and more than 230,000 people in other countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand and India.
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